I must admit to not having listened to any of Sleepy Sun’s output until very recently, and it was only because of a couple of great contributions to recent 3rd party output that got me to finally shell out on their latest work to see what they are like when left to their own devices. So, I suppose this purchase was made out of a sense of polite intrigue rather than anything else, which is a bit of a first. And as blind picks go, this is one that would impress even Paul the Psychic Octopus.
Then again, has anyone else noticed that Paul just goes for the same box every time? I suspect that he’s not so much psychic as multi-left-handed…
Thanks to the closure of two roads leading to a 10-mile diversion, it took me a lot longer to find Jodrell Bank than it usually does. Fortunately, it was a beautifully sunny day, the roads were free of traffic and so I was able to soak up this album in its entirety before I arrived at the World’s 3rd-largest rotating radio telescope (it says here) for the sake of a couple of photos and the killing of an afternoon.
The bloody thing was facing the other way by the time I got there, so I came back home and listened to this album all over again.
All very apt, as the blazing hot weather, the meandering through the countryside and the eye to the heavens seems to sum up Fever rather nicely. It begins with the vast Marina, and this showcases in about six and a half minutes what the whole album is about with its constant and effortless switches in tempo, mood and style – it begins as a swirling shoe gaze anthem with a huge guitar at the forefront, and then flicks to a plaintive, almost folky interlude before flicking back to phased rock mode again, followed by a joyously-infectious tribal rhythm section, all fitting beautifully within the framework of the song.
And right through this album are many such twists and turns, but all done with a cohesive identity that holds the record together as an enjoyable whole so that by the time closer Sandstorm Woman comes to an end, you feel as though you’ve been listening to a recording far longer (in the best possible sense) than the 45 minutes on offer.
The listener is guided through all of this by the vocals of Bret Constantino and (especially) Rachel Fannan, which on many occasions sound so close to each other that they could almost be male and female versions of the same voice. And with the music covering so many sonic bases, they both mirror Fever’s compositions by adapting beautifully to each passage of each song, whispering one minute, soaring the next.
There’s much to get lost within here, and it’s a pleasure to do so. The band’s blurb describes them as coming from ‘Many Californias’, and this describes them perfectly, coming across as a culmination of the State’s best musical geography.
I first heard Sleepy Sun on two of my favourite releases of this year – as collaborators on UNKLE’s Where Did the Night Fall and as contributors to the delightful Be Yourself tribute to Graham Nash. These two tracks promised much, and on Fever they deliver on this promise with interest. It’s been a great year so far for new releases, and this is certainly among the best of them.