Pop-Songs, Swimming in Fog
This debut LP for Austin's Sleep Over (who officially write their name with an infinity symbol in the middle; I won't) was preceded by two of the year's best singles: "Casual Diamond" and "Romantic Streams," two incandescent, opaque, sleepy-eyed slow-jams where Stefanie Franciotti's voice drawled, dancerly and nimble, through drifting, wafting clouds of audio dry ice that trailed away from its graceful, balletic movements.
If it was astonishing hearing them as stand-alone songs, it's equally as astonishing hearing them within the context of Forever, an album as big on uneasy ambience and pure noise as it's fond of sweet singing and pirouetting melodies.
The pop-song moments that periodically arise throughout —and though none quite hit the heights of "Casual Diamond" and "Romantic Streams," there's a handful more moments also in thrall to melody as much as mood— feel less like they're imposed upon the wafting atmospheres, more as if they're a product of them; materializing from amidst the mist, bringing human form to the ethereal drift, yet never really breaking free of it.
Perfect Sound Forever
Rather than sounding out as lonely islands in Forever's album-long fog, every song is perfectly integrated into its dense, delirious, shape-shifting soundworld. Franciotti may be partaking in ambient practices, but she isn't playing simply, solitary synth washes. Her compositions are filled with sonic detail: treated guitars exploring crevices, field-recordings circling in the air, fried electronics soaking into the structures like water from a leaking pipe.
Strung together, sustained, it's an album that plays, perfectly, as album; an immersive experience that allows for highs and lows, moments of giddy glory and near-incidental interludes, yet never loses its grip on the listener. Coming across albums that succeed as linear wholes in 2011 is rare; especially ones that do it this well. Forever is that kind of sweet find, that glorious an audio treasure; shining to the point of dazzle, sparkle in its dreamy eyes, light resounding in every winsome, wonky note.
Record Label: Hippos in Tanks
Release Date: September 27, 2011