Review: Art of Sleeping – Shake Shiver

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Originally posted on Music Insight:

It’s been three years since Brisbane indie rockers Art of Sleeping began enriching our airwaves and music libraries with their harmonious rock sound.

Their 2012 EP release Like A Thief caused a stir with its gripping melodies and infectious choruses that had people hankering for more. The auspicious quintet listened and have delivered in spades with debut album Shake Shiver.

With producer Tom Iansek (Big Scary, #1 Dads) and Yanto Browning (Kate Miller-Heidke, The Medics) guiding the five-piece ensemble, the record is a folk-animated pop rock soiree, full of polished hooks and rowdy tales of love and the inevitable heartache that comes with the end of a relationship.

We’re first introduced to the narrator’s torment in Win Your Heart. The love song gets straight to the point with its emotionally charged lyrics, “You never say the words I crave to hear from you.” The opener evokes a sense of euphoria with its snare drums, steady piano keys and guitar licks that permanently embed themselves in your mind. Despite its docile approach, the track’s firm arrangement is the perfect inauguration to the entire album.

Our first taste of their freshman attempts however was back in August last year with the release of their first single, Crazy. Bluesy undertones can be found in this rock and roll anthem – add to that frontman Caleb Hodges’ passionate and seductive vocals calling out to his absent lover in a falsetto frenzy.

It’s this overall sense of longing that makes each track jam-packed with insightful and fiery lyrics. The group has created songs that don’t just rely on clever hooks and exciting musical arrangements, but are underpinned by compelling songwriting.

Perhaps the finest gem on the record is the reflective and sombre Burning Bright. Hodges seems so broken as he desperately sings, “Why are you so far away when you’re right there in my bed?” These words accompanied by a melodic trickling guitar showcase a vulnerability and diversity that is missing from the first couple of songs.

The outfit’s fascination with layered compositions is a constant presence, one that works well with their acoustic-rock roots and certainly fulfils the group’s original brief to produce music that is both gratifying and relatable.

Finishing strong with Voodoo and The Cage, the band strikes a darker chord than we’ve been accustomed to during previous tracks. The resentment in Hodges’ voice in Voodoo rings as clear as the drum’s pulsing energy, and the reverb of the synthesiser adds an eerie undercurrent that mingles well with their notorious guitar riffs.

The Cage wraps up the album in a smooth and spellbinding way. Initially mellow and subdued with a tiptoeing piano and agile guitar picking; it gradually builds into a boisterous percussion arrangement supported by soaring backing vocals, leaving you in a meditative state.

At 37 minutes long, Shake Shiver is an impressive debut effort. It’s a highly polished collection of songs that is brutally confronting, earthy and honest, and undoubtedly paves the way for bigger and better things for Art of Sleeping.

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