Entering the studio with budding producer and close personal friend, Daniel Braunstein, the band embraces a uniquely Los Angeles sound - showcasing decades of influence all wrapped within the band’s core identity. From opening track to closing note, it’s clear that the band has discarded what may have been expected and instead chosen to embrace something most artists struggle to ever find: themselves.
Sleeptalk exhibits a new sense of depth for the band, as noted by Rory Rodriguez, singer and lyricist, “We really tried to tackle topics that we’ve never touched on before… proving that we’re much more than a 'hardcore' band in this scene.” Opening with “Drunk” the band’s confidence is immediately evident, seamlessly integrating traditional instruments (guitar, drums, bass) with electronic samples, suggesting the band’s expanding musical comprehension. Long-time listeners should be quick to recognize the driving riffs of Gino Sbambelluri, the band’s sole guitarist, who continues to showcase his signature aggression on tracks like “Crooked Soul” and “Gates of Ivory”, while finding core maturation in the band’s sheer range: especially in the anthemic track song, Sleeptalk, with an ear-worm chorus that impresses at first listen, while begging for further attention. Throughout the album, one may notice the subtle additions of newcomer bassist Ramone Valero, who accents long-time drummer, Mike Karle’s rare knack for effective drumming that accomplishes precision, while still acting as support for the band instead of competing for the spotlight - strongly evidenced in the subtle technicality in “The Color Black". The combined instrumentations of Sbambelluri, Karle, and Valero shine with the new material, often times in the band’s willingness to yield to the impressive singing abilities of Rodriguez - as his vocal contributions take center stage on much of the album. This catapult’s them into new accessible territory without sacrificing musicianship. Throughout the record, Rodriguez displays a rare vocal prowess that’s sure to leave an impression on even the most seasoned connoisseur of all things top 40.
With notable growth as a writer, Rodriguez employs his familiar angst-driven lyrical style, but frames this with more vivid story-telling and increasingly memorable hooks. The result are lyrics reminiscent of the confessional approach of Plath - which burn quickly - but leaves a lasting haunt. However, it’s when digging further into the record’s deeper cuts where the lyrical maturation becomes all the more evident. Tracks like “Already Numb” and the gutting album closer, “Crash and Burn” rally around the central narrative of recognizing one’s part in relational pain, while not settling for the generic self-effacing tropes common to post-hardcore.
No longer feeling confined to any particular genre, the band, in collaboration, allows their pop sensibilities to take center stage at times, even spanning decades: "We let a lot of 80’s influence show through” says Rodriguez, citing a variety of artists, including nostalgia-fueled contemporaries, The Midnight with flavors of brooding alt-pop seen in the recent records of Japanese House. This may be most evident in the standout single, and title-track of the same name, where arpeggiated synths bookend the up-beat track, with a memorable chorus that could easily be consumed by the masses, despite a mournful lyrical motifs and almost jarring imagery that almost demand a track repeat. Another great examples of this is the aforementioned “Drunk” with its transition between active rock and avant-garde pop - each element feels equally appropriate with smooth transitions making sense of the entire sonic palette. And that is the charm of Sleeptalk - a depth that hides in plain sight.
Sleeptalk releases worldwide through Spinefarm Records on September 27 where listeners will have a rare opportunity to enjoy the efforts of a band who has done away with the rules and instead written their own story.