Sleepy Vikings - They Will Find You Here
Record Label: New Granada
Release Date: May 10th, 2011
Depending on who you ask, debut records are either the most difficult of albums to write or they can be the easiest. On one hand, there's no pressure or expectation to write in a certain mindset about a specific topic. You're free and even encouraged to experiment in order to establish a signature trademark sound that listeners will invariably associate you with. There are no limitations when it comes to time, there isn't a need to write music to cater to a loyal fanbase because there never really is one during the relatively infant beginnings of a band vying to establish themselves a position within the independent music industry. Likewise, those same aforementioned positives can also be considered overwhelmingly negative. For bands and artists writing their debut, it can be immensely difficult to create a piece of music or a substantial body of work that enables individuals and labels to start paying attention. Debut albums are essentially a musical lifetime of work and utmost dedication and if they're not precisely constructed, there can be a lack of flow and overall cohesiveness. Fortunately for Floridan sextet, The Sleepy Vikings, their debut full-length titled They Will Find You Here is so well written and expertly produced that you could be forgiven for believing the band capable of already having multiple albums firmly nestled under their belts.
The writing and recording process took slightly more than a year in which the band slowly and painstakingly crafted a folk/pop record that contains a plentiful amount of significant twists and turns without the band ever wandering and deviating far from the musical foundation the band have set for themselves. Every band have a quality that keeps a listener returning, and in Sleepy Vikings case, that quality is in their distinct ability to implement and entwine dual female and male vocalists who at times sing simultaneously. It makes for a harmonious listening experience throughout the majority of the nine tracks They Will Find You Here has to offer.
The record eases the listener in with the luscious guitar tones and charming keyboards of album opener "These Days", a track that in essence is a tribute to adolescent struggles and feeling terribly inadequate. The instrumentation is absorbing and sweet before the chorus features a combination of both Tessa McKenna and Julian Connor complementing each other accordingly when it comes to the uniqueness of their vocal deliveries. The track quickly gallops at an alarmingly frenetic pace and tempo during the final minute as various assortments of distorted guitars wail against the pulsating drumbeats provided by the competent Ryann Slauson.
My own personal favorite on the record is the beautifully captivating "Calm", complete with its gorgeous sing-along vocals, high rising harmonies and playful melodies - it's sure to be a favorite among many who give it a mere three minutes of their time and attention. The lyrics, however, are in stark contrast for they're deceptively bittersweet as is best exemplified when McKenna sings, "Lovely bones floating down the river / all this time you thought you knew me better... But you didn't". It features the catchiest and most unmistakably memorable chorus you'll find on the record, and it's perhaps the best and most accurate representation as to who this band and what they're aiming to achieve musically.
"Flashlight Tag" is unexpectedly shoegaze and country influenced, but once again it showcases that Sleepy Vikings are able to incorporate a number of genres and yet still remain true to the sound they've worked hard to develop. The song itself is slightly more upbeat with many outward signs of tempo shifts, layered guitars and minor keys all culminating in a lovely flourishing finish. The simplistic structure of "A Background Funeral" works well in the context of the record. It's a lovely two and a half minute brooding ballad that features soaring melodies and fascinating lyrics. "Leave your lover a sad crooked ghost / leave her collecting bones counting what you've lost / holding the one thing that you love the most / place to rest in a backyard funeral / don't give it a grave or name, don't dig it a hole / so drop it and walk away, it deserves to be alone".
There are moments towards the latter stages of proceedings where Connor takes over lead vocalist duties ("Dear Long Distance" and "White Wolves") and whilst they're lovely individual songs in their own right, there's a noticeable something missing without McKenna's vocals there to accompany him. On the subject of minor criticisms, there isn't a great amount of diversity on the record. Chances are if you're not a fan of lead single "Calm" then this record won't be one that interests you. For a band that stays firmly entrenched within the confines of their sizable comfort zone, Sleepy Vikings know and understand their limitations, and instead of stepping outside of it and risk opening up and highlighting their flaws, they create a safe, yet easily enjoyable debut release for fans of independent folk/pop music.
RIYL has me interested. Is there a stream of this anywhere?
Not that I'm aware of. I'll contact their label and make some inquires though just to make sure that I haven't missed it. Definitely give a listen to "Calm" and "A Backyard Funeral" though. They're wonderful tracks!