Sleepover (2.09, Moon Dial)
For: Sarge, Tiger Trap, Sarah Records 1987-1995
Byline: As Twee as they wanna be.
In my interview with Gavin's Underground Blog I gave a list of SLC artists whose upcoming 2010 releases I was excited for. In that list I mentioned the obvious big names of artists who would be releasing albums this year: Silver Antlers, High Country, Chaz Prymek, Stag Hare...I can't believe I forgot Sleepover! If there has been a band that has garnered justifiable buzz here in SLC it has been the precious sounds of these twee renaissance harbingers. Playing a handful of shows between here and Provo, being featured in SLUG localized, and been given shout-outs up and down, the moment has finally arrived. The Sleepover album. Comin' straight out of C-86, Sleepover combine shambling, upbeat major chords, backed by a tight rhythm (probably better than any drummer you will hear in any recording labeled Twee), and Lydia Worden's incredible ear for melody and ability to deliver a killer chorus. The line-up is pretty prestigious: bassist Braden McKenna, mastermind behind Navigator, WYLD WYZYRDS, and his eponymous projects, along with drummer Stephen Walter who moonlights in just about every worthwhile band in SLC, and Lydia Worden who has debuted as Cousin Songs and her upcoming hip-hop solo project (!!!1!!!). Enough exposition, Sleepover's self-titled debut prove they are heirs to Tiger Trap's throne and, along with The Pains of Being Pure in Heart and It Hugs Back as riding the crest of second-wave twee revival. The misconception has always been that just because Twee music is cute and simple: Major chord dominant progressions with zero distortion, cardboard drums, and lyrics about crushes, crushes, and more crushes, that the whole package is cute and simple. This is simply not true with Sleepover. Bands at the mercy of a principal singer/songwriter can often feel like an insular projection of that sole agent. As such, Sleepover can be seen as time-capsule of the past year for Lydia Worden. Worden's Lyrics, while typically cast as upbeat and cutesy in twee, are in fact, often at odds with the upbeat chord progression she is hammering out. Themes of unrequited love and societal backlash towards her sexual orientation replace taking naps with kittens under trees and schoolgirl crushes (those sentiments are there, just not in spades). Her melodic cadence is laced with ennui and justifiable frustration. This however, does not take the music down a notch, in fact, it bolsters its jangly pop with something real and cathartic. With this said, Sleepover doesn't sink or swim on one factor, Braden's competent bass work breaks into moments of brilliance often rising to prominence in "And You" and their eponymous jam "Sleepover". And back to drumming, twee drummers mostly just show up to keep time, but Stephen Walter, while somewhat muzzled by the aesthetic, keeps the entire sound together with his steady sense of time. In short, Sleepover transcends the temptation to write them off as a nostalgic nod to an oft-maligned sub-genre and a time when talent was not a prerequisite to start a band, the combination of heartfelt and honest songwriting coupled with confident and pitch-perfect instrumentation show the depth of talent that goes into recording Sleepover. In an era where adherence to a genre is an anomoly, Sleepover stick to their twee guns and delve deep into themselves to fill out 2010's already impeccable track record of rewarding albums.