They’ve found a renewed clarity to go with their lozenge-smooth lethargy.
Reef Younis 2010-05-19
For all of its hazy decadence, Sleepy Sun’s debut, Embrace, was an album rippling with disarming vocal duets and quaking guitars so in sync, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were twinned.
But when any song breaking the five-minute barrier is liable to be labelled “progressive” or “stoner rock” by a simple virtue of time and guitars beyond the requisite three chords, shedding the tags is always going to be difficult.
It won’t come as a surprise, then, that the band’s second album, Fever, has built on the immense, psychedelic promise of its predecessor and delivers with an equally panoramic somnolence. Inspired by the undulating hills of Sierra Gold Country and the sunshine climes of California, it’s an album draped in a languid, rolling spirituality that’s as prone to weave and wander as it’s capable of splitting the sky in two with an amplified thunder crack.
Dispensing with some of the fug that characterised Embrace, opener Marina crystallises the album’s dynamism and diversity from the outset. Soupy riffs, Rachel Williams’ ethereal, lingering vocal and a tribal breakdown to make Paul Simon smile don’t so much as ease you in but drop you into the vivacity of a late night campfire in the bowels of the Sierra Valley. And, once again, Bret Constantino and Williams’ sumptuous duets are a constant delight, snaking and intertwining along honeyed guitar work on Rigamaroo and delicately ducking the discordance on the more volatile Wild Machines.
The majority of tracks still lumber and lurch with freak-out guitar zeal but there’s a noticeable balance as Open Eyes sweeps and soars in all the right places and the writhing, black stupor of Sandstorm displays everything that makes Black Mountain so mesmerising.
Sleepy Sun aren’t above dispelling the perceptions of over indulgence, and they may always be tarred thus, but Fever at least proves there’s a renewed clarity to go with the lozenge-smooth lethargy, even if it isn’t totally clearheaded.