Ok, I'm going to try to be as objective as possible in reviewing
Sleeping In The Aviary's new album Great Vacation, but
it might prove difficult considering I've fallen in love with this
band. Like many talented artists, Sleeping In The Aviary is not easily
classified. They themselves describe the new album as "a tropical
mouth gargling high octane easy listening blast of reggae to the mindhole."
If that's hard to swallow, just think Dr. Dog meets Of Montreal
meets Stars. Meets lots of other stuff, too.
Great Vacation showcases a bevy of styles and utilizes plenty
of nontraditional instruments from ukuleles to trumpets and some kind
of weird twangy thing (which I have no idea what its name is). I would
venture to say their dedication to the sound of each song is what
makes them so interesting. Without the constraints of guitars-bass-drum,
they can be more experimental. And boy howdy, does it pay off! They
go from blues ballad to retro beach pop without missing a beat.
Highlights off the album include tracks 1-11. But for realz, I loved
the tropical "Weightlessly In Love", the beautiful, bluesy
"Last Kiss On A Sinking Ship", and the magical "I Want
You Back (I Want You Dead)" which has both falsetto vocals and
a drum machine breakdown. Win. "Axes Ground Looth Tooth"
sounds like a mix of Stars and Arcade Fire. Meanwhile, "The
Very Next Day I Died" has a repeating structure like a sing-a-long
nursery rhyme, yet with philosophical and sociological underpinnings.
What I find so charming about Aviary is their sense of humor (see
website) mixed with a bittersweet poetic quality. For example, "Last
Kiss On A Sinking Ship" is a love song with a twist of tragedy.
Likewise, "Maria's Ghost" starts out "Me I held Maria
while she struggled on the bed / she forgot the safety word / now
she's dead." Based on this kind of witty irony, one of the strongest
comparisons I can make is to Islands. Silliness aside, their
musical ability speaks for itself.
In sum, Sleeping In The Aviary's Great Vacation will leave
you wondering "Why haven't I heard of this band before?"
Good news, they're touring early 2011, so get on it.
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