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The Sleeping
Questions And Answers
Victory Records

At first glance, The Sleeping is yet another hardcore screamo band with songs that switch on a dime from slow emo whining to a screeching thrash that sounds like the singer's voice will give out after the first tour. The band's name fits the bill, as do the dyed black hair, piercings and the 32,000 MySpace friends. It doesn't help that The Sleeping hail from Long Island, seemingly spit out of the same postpunk factory as Taking Back Sunday and Brand New.

But give the kids a second chance. Another listen reveals shades of At the Drive In, some prog-rock guitar work and catchy pop backdrops. The album starts strong with "Don't Hold Back," with a classic staccato riff that would make Wolfmother proud. That leads into crashing cymbals and Douglas Robinson's urgent, sensual lyrics. "We're weak in the knees and I can't take this/ Heat stroke, our burning bodies melt away/ Just work it. I've been … I've been waiting," he sings. That should net him some groupies at the inevitable TRL taping. Besides, even the Warped Tour set needs its own Prince, belting out sexually charged lyrics.

Unfortunately, the lyrics fall flat from that point. The second song, "Loud and Clear" sounds like some kind of musical version of "Gremlins 2." "'They can't be back,' he said. A chilling wind from the living room. 'Oh how can this be? I thought I buried them in electricity,'" is the strange quoted dialogue that opens the song. Huh?

Toward the end of the album, it's the typical heartbreak ("All alone, tortured, denied"), jealousy ("Who were you there with?") and bitterness ("I don't wait for you).

The music makes up for the lyrical mediocrity, though, with wide-ranging but tight music. Even the second song with the silly sci-fi lyrics has hints of electronica and a heavy but radio-friendly dueling guitars sound. Other songs have Metallica-worthy drum speeds over Black Sabbath-influenced guitar riffs. Certainly worth the time for a few listens.

- Steve Graham

Track Listing:
1. Don't Hold Back
2. Loud And Clear
3. Heart Beatz
4. The Climb
5. The Big Breakdown-Day 3 (The Escape)
6. King Of Hearts
7. 3 Cigarettes
8. Who Stays Behind
9. Listen Close
10. Dearest Mistake,
11. Better Than Anything Else
12. Still

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