If you’ve got any kind of romantic or nostalgic bone in your body, the first thing that attracts you to Sunsleeper won’t be their music. It’ll be that album title. You Can Miss Something & Not Want It Back – has there been a more poetic summation of everything that a record stands for, simply put into an album title in recent years than that? I’m really struggling to think of one. There are millions of ways that bands are trying to capture a potential listener’s attention but sometimes, it’s the simple ones that work the best.
Brilliant title aside it also helps if the music lives up to your newfound curiosity and expectations, and Sunsleeper also manage to do that with aplomb. The Salt Lake City based quintet’s 2016 debut EP laid the groundwork, and this, their first full length LP, has picked up exactly where that record left off. One of the things that makes the album so easy to love is that just as you think you’ve got it pinned down; you’re gently nudged in another direction. Take for example, the opening two tracks Feel The Same and Soften Up. The former is a floating, bewitching, nuanced affair, while the latter is for all intents and purposes is a straight up Indie track. The band describes themselves as Emo Rock but there’s so much more to them than that.
I Hope You’re OK continues the strong start and the switch to a rougher sounding and more impassioned vocal style for the chorus really drives this one forward. YCMS&NWIB isn’t just an album to be heard it’s an album to be felt. The song writing is honest and raw and that is conveyed perfectly through the presentation of each individual song. The album ebbs and flows as different emotions are tugged at, explored and then left behind. The poignant and then somehow rousing Souvenir is that idea demonstrated perfectly in three and a half wonderful minutes.
One of the things that has been lost in the steaming era is the skill and desire to make albums fit together as one cohesive body work and not just a series of singles and soundbites. But here it feels like Sunsleeper are playing the long game and set out to make something that will stand the test of time, because the album flows expertly from one track to the next and takes the listener on a journey. (And there isn’t a reality TV show in sight!)
No Cure, Fading and Casual Mistakes glide by with all the silky-smooth ease of a Marvin Gaye tune from your speakers. That’s not to say they all blend into one or fade into dreary easy listening territory because there’s plenty of kick there when needed, but the band’s style feels very much effortless. You Can’t Please Everyone sees the band return to what brought them to the dance, with the soft, almost haunting vocals of frontman Jeffery Mudgett taking centre stage. That is until the cracking melody that runs through penultimate effort Better Now arrives on the scene.
It’s a shame that the only real weak song on the album is the closer Home. There’s nothing inherently, or overtly bad out it, it just doesn’t hit the mark in the same way as the rest of the record does. None of the album’s track are the most tightly structured and uniform but ‘Home’ feels like it floats and wanders around a little too much and lacks focus. One song obviously doesn’t take the shine off everything that went before, but it does mean that things end on a little bit of a flat note.
Slightly flat closing track aside, YCMS&NWIB is a ridiculously rewarding listen, and frankly a damn good way to spend half an hour. That being said if you just drop this on in the background while going about your day, there’s so much about it you’ll miss, and you’ll probably wonder what all the praise is about. You’ve got to really live with it for a little while. Although the central lyrical premise of dealing with change and learning to accept it, is one to which any listener can surely relate. In any case, who can argue that an album whose title doubles as life advice doesn’t deserve a listen? So, to whomever needs to hear this, remember that “You can miss something and not want it back”.
For fans of: Homesafe, Can’t Swim, Movements
Words by James Holder
‘You Can Miss Something & Not Want It Back’ by Sunsleeper is out now on Rude Records.