“A New Way Home” starts off with a strong vocal melody that leads seamlessly into an instrumental passage that establishes the groove of the song. As the band progresses through the work, the audience begins to experience the band’s signature sound. From this first track, Sleep On It is giving their audience lyrics that reign true to the “norm” of the pop punk scene, but their instrumental music sounds fresh, clean, and the vocals are just as fantastic. Additionally, the band toys with different instrumentation throughout to counterbalance important phrases lyrically, which is effective in allowing the audience to internalize the theme of this song.
“Window” starts with a relaxed melodic line that quickly adds the instrumental section. The material of the instrumental section is upbeat, and it keeps the momentum of the song moving forward. This works well for the band because the lyrics throughout are uplifting, and the band can fully convey this because of their bright tone. Also, the band toys with the technique of adding and subtracting instruments to allow some phrases stick out of the melody. This is a great choice for this song, for it amplifies the empowering lyrics as well as it provides the audience with a slightly new sound.
“Distant” starts off with an instrumental feature that quickly leads into the first verse. The melody, similar to the previous songs, is quite memorable, which is favorable because it makes the listener want to continue to listen to the band’s music. As the song progresses, it is heard that the band is using more symmetrical rhythms throughout the instrumental section; thus, this technique adds a new sound to the band’s album. This is strong for the band because it shows their audience more of what they have to offer. In the middle of the song, the band drops the instrumental section down for one phrase, and then it immediately builds (and then some) in intensity with their first punk related breakdown that carries them to the end of the selection.
“Hope” starts with another instrumental feature that feels as if it is taking influence from older pop punk artists, yet they have twisted it to make it fresh and their own. In this song, the band utilizes vocal isolation more than they have in the previous selections; meaning, the song has an overall lighter instrumental part. This is a wise choice for the band because it showcases the vocalist well, and it shows the audience another type of song that Sleep On It can produce. As the work moves forward, it is easy to access that this selection is just as memorable as the previous songs; however, this song will likely resonate with listeners, for it is a happy song to listen to (simply put but that’s the best way to describe it).
“Always Crashing the Same Car” starts off like a normal pop punk song: a cute guitar melody with little percussion. Soon after this interlude, the band comes in swinging with the first verse. The instrumental material for this song, at this point, instantly hits a groove and is quickly pleasing to the ear. With a title, such as this one, the audience wants the song to be amazing because that title is witty and relatable, and Sleep On It produced a song that easily lives up to that expectation. There wasn’t anything overly innovative in this selection, yet their song sounded enjoyable, and what more could you ask for?
“Photobooth” starts with a more relaxed tone, which is a result of the lower-voiced melodic line, and the minimal instrumental part. In this portion of the song, the band is showing their vulnerability. This is effective when moving through the rest of the song because the band grows in intensity as the song moves forward; meaning, the vocals get louder, as does the instrumental material, and the overall feel of the piece seems to build tension until there is a sudden drop of instrumentation. After this sudden drop, the band includes an instrumental feature that is characteristically different than anything that they’ve provided already on the album. This could be a foreseen favorite from the album because it shares a bond of musical highs and lows, which makes it more pleasing to the listener.
“What We Stay Alive For” starts as another groove tune like previous tracks on the album, yet it sounds a tad different to keep the audience interested. As this song progresses, it is heard that the song sounds like a stereotypical pop punk selection. That doesn’t make this a bad song at all; rather, this song could be used for the band to really establish a fan base, for their sound in this section resembles bigger bands in the scene, but Sleep On It still provides their our general characteristics to morph this general sound and make it their own.
“Fireworks” features Derek DiScanio of State Champs, and it starts with catchy vocals right from the first down beat. After the first section of lyrics, the band shifts into their general, full sound. As the song progresses, it is apparent that the band is enhancing their catchy melody by providing instrumental material that is musically interesting, yet it isn’t overwhelming because it falls is perfect symmetry with the melody. In the middle of the song, the band brings the instrumentation down to build the sound back up gradually as the general groove remains underneath. It is also notable that the vocals in this song are very nice, for they are clear and sound pleasing with the instrumental material.
“Leave the Lights On” starts with an upbeat instrumental section that leads seamlessly into the first verse. Once the first verse in set, the pulse of the song remains rather steady; however, the band shifts their “feel” of the work ever-so-often. One moment the song is upbeat, similar to the beginning, but there are moments quickly after where the band brings the instrumentation down, and the tone becomes more relaxed while keeping that same pulse. In the middle of the song, the band provides a small guitar melody that becomes the new underlying countermelody as the vocals grow in intensity. This countermelody drives the song through with its momentum as the band layers two melodic lines over one another (vocally speaking).
“A Brighter Shade of Blue” starts with a simple instrumental melody, which was led by an acoustic guitar. This melodic content was paired with a gentle, relaxed vocal part that was filled with sentiment. As the song progresses, the band provides their audience with a song where they can hear, feel, and internalize the lyrics and emotion that they are putting into it. This was a smart selection for the band, for it is something that they haven’t provided their audience yet; thus, it keeps the audience engaged as a listener, and it shows them another skill that the band has in its arsenal.
“Overexposed” starts with a percussion feature that quickly transitions into the first verse. This song has a groove theme that is established through this initial percussive idea. This song seems to have a general pull forward until it relaxes back into the second the verse, but as the song progresses forward the band heightens its intensity once more. In the middle of the selection, there is a small instrumental interlude before the vocalist enters with strong lyrics. These lyrics are similar to ones that would be screamed at the top of fans’ lungs at a live concert. Since this is the track that directly correlates to the album, it was imperative that the band provided a track that embodied their sound, and the band did that and more.
“Autumn (I Wish I Was Better)” starts with a solemn fluctuation of guitar chords before the lead vocals enter, and those chords are soon morphed into a simple guitar motive with interruptions or “punches” of sound from the other members of the instrumental section. After this introductory content, the band moves to a steady pace with a general Sleep On It characteristic sound (which they’ve fully established in this album). As the middle of the song is approached, the band utilizes vocal techniques that are a bit more aggressive to amplify the intensity of the lyrics they were singing. After this, the band fades to nothing where they remain in a slight grand pause until the band returns full force with a beautiful instrumental interlude that drives to the end of the album. This was an excellent choice for a closing song on their debut album, for it showed their audience their characteristic sound, it provided them with interesting material, and it was hard-hitting emotionally speaking.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 4.5 out of 5 stars. This is a fantastic debut album. Sleep On It pulled out all of the stops to show their audience exactly who they are as a band, and what they are capable of doing and producing. Though I referred to the band utilizing older pop punk techniques, it is important to note that in every song that they put on this album had their style embedded into it. As time goes on, and the band gets more publicity, this album will be the baseline for their success, and I believe that it’ll get them very far. Phenomenal work!
*”Overexposed” was released on November 3, 2017 through Equal Vision Records.