Whisper it, but there’s been a subtle change sweeping through the pop-punk landscape of late.
Not quite a revolution – possibly an edge towards evolution – but whatever way you cut it, there’s no denying the rise in bands getting real and flexing their creative, emotional and songwriting muscles in 2017. Chicago five-piece Sleep On It are emblematic of this collective shot at more than 4/4 beats, sheer energy and sun-drenched fun.
Everyone from Knuckle Puck to Grayscale and even homegrown heroes The Gospel Youth have been at it; almost as if there’s been a conscious,
scene-wide recognition that this style of music can serve as a vehicle for people to dig a little deeper. Considering that it’s a debut album, ‘Overexposed’ is an outstanding wider introduction to a potentially special band.
Following swiftly on from last year’s ‘Lost Along The Way’ EP (the band’s third in total, and first with vocalist Zech Pluister) this picks up where the five-piece left off in fine style. Opener ‘A New Way Home’ is actually something of a callback to the previous release’s curtain raiser, ‘Counting Miles’ – bristling with wanderlust and the hope that there’s something better out there somewhere. As the frontman yearns for “a splash of colour in this grayscale life” over guitar lines that build and rise and drums and bass combos that heighten the drama, it makes for an epic opening salvo that sets both tone and scope. It’s immediately clear that Sleep On It aren’t messing around.
The quality doesn’t dip once, in truth, with memorable verses and catchy choruses everywhere you turn. That’s thanks in part to the warm, familiar production qualities of Seth Henderson (Real Friends, Knuckle Puck), with a little help from State Champs frontman Derek DiScanio (who also lends his voice to the emotionally-charged ‘Fireworks’). But it’s the stories, the words, insight and personality of the people behind these songs that will keep you coming back for more. Zech – as the chief protagonist of said tales – comes across like a pensive, troubled soul, with lyrical themes of hopelessness, feeling lost and self-improvement dominating proceedings. There’s a maturity in his delivery and a husky quality about his vocals that sets him apart from some of his more overly-earnest peers. The best bit is, this merely feels like the beginning of what could be a fascinating story – one worth sticking with as it unfolds.
Ultimately, Sleep On It are a band worth believing in. That’s sometimes hard to say with a straight face in this day and age, but this lot feel different: backing this record feels like being on the side of the
It’s unlikely they’ll become the biggest band in the world, but if there’s any justice Sleep On It will become a lot of people’s favourite. That might mean you. Give them your time and attention, and you just never know.