Sleep Whale | Houseboat
Most Likely To: satisfy without straining too hard.
Formerly known as Mom, the band now know as Sleep Whale’s brand new full-length isn’t terribly innovative, yet manages to impress. Nearly instrumental, Houseboat opens with “Green Echo,” its hypnotic beginning stylistically paying homage to The Books’ The Lemon of Pink. “Cotton Curls” is dreamy and psychedelic, but feels a bit brief due to the tempo. Ending upbeat and atmospheric, the band’s delivery of this song fades with a warmth like a summer or late spring night.
Predicated on vibrating drumbeats, the crisp and acoustic chords of “We Were Dripping” foster a cinematic foreground to sparse and honest lyrics. Crafting a sense of nostalgia, Houseboat’s third track is calm and bright, reviving the romanticism of a rainy day. “Roof Sailing” meshes the swish of running water with strings and extraterrestrial clicks, while “Summer Slick” and “Dissolved” show off chops comparable to early tracks by Broken Social Scene.
Tapping into the current psych-folk trend, “Make Another Picture” shimmers with snare and echoed vocals, creating a swell followed by a slight deconstruction, before finally resulting in a hushed, stark end. “Icicles” is equal parts orchestral and mechanic, coupling the rise and fall of emphatic strings alongside the dings of a music box. In the spirit of Bradford Cox or Califone, “Ferry Whistle” is rhythmically alluring, with subtle percussion and washed out whistles.
Houseboat’s sound isn’t merely charming, it’s comfortably surreal. Barely daring but likeable, Sleep Whale could easily replace Explosions in the Sky’s place in your music library.
Watch Sleep Whale perform “Make Another Picture” at Emo’s in Austin from this past January: