Despite loving their music I was a little late to the party to ever see them live in the 90’s so the opportunity to do so some twenty odd years later was too good to miss. You may have noticed how much I gush over The it Girl album so it was a must-see gig. Better still, their new album The Modern Age is brilliant too so that made it more exciting!
First support were a band I’d never heard before, Thyla. They were brilliant! So much so at the the end of their set I whipped out my phone and downloaded their new EP “What’s On Your Mind“. I won’t say much more now as I’m likely to be listening to it on repeat so i’m pretty sure they’ll end up in a post of their own. Second support were the Supernaturals. I was never a big fan of them in the 90’s but I do remember a few of their songs. They were good but not a highlight for me.
Finally Sleeper graced the stage for their last night of their UK tour. It didn’t matter what they kicked off with but as soon as the keyboard hook boomed and the guitar riff kicked in for Nice Guy Eddie we were off! Mixing new songs with old, their energy was unstoppable.
I would be happy to see them play whole of The it Girl from start to finish (twice) but there was enough of that album in the set list to satisfy, including Factor 41, which I didn’t expect to hear. The new tracks sounded brilliant, the only omission for me being Car Into The Sea, but I am not complaining by any means. It was a Sleeper party to dream of and Blondie’s Atomic spliced with Love Will Tear Us Apart, complete with disco balls, ramped it up even more.
It was one of those concerts that you wished wouldn’t end just yet. The highlights for me were Statuesque (I flippin’ love that track!) and The Modern Age. Louise seemed overwhelmed by the response from the crowd who were having a whale of a time seeing them perform. The band were on point, delivering what the crowd wanted with confidence and fun. I’m pretty sure they loved it as much as we did so hope that means they will be back soon, because given the chance I will be there.
When a band reforms after over 20 years I think they have a tough challenge. There’s a certain amount of fan expectation of nostalgic recreation and some critical ears looking for something relevant. It’s a hard job to pull off and so I think any band in that position can only do one thing – what they enjoy. It is inevitable that The Modern Age will be compared to Sleeper’s previous three albums. Their second album, 1996’s The it Girl, is one of my favourite albums ever although I discovered it after Sleeper had split in 1998. Their last, 1997’s Pleased to Meet You, and its singles didn’t reach the same chart heights as the first two but I actually think it’s a great album and demands more ear time if you haven’t listened to it.
I have been over-exciting myself for the past year waiting for their return to the recording studio to be completed and my excitement has not been in vain. Everything I love about Sleeper is here. As a fan I know I am predisposed with a level of enjoyment but no longer are our tastes dictated by a 5 year microcosm of musical trend. People are more than ever entrenched in music of different era’s and although new sounds emerge some music just sounds good, and if it might be reminiscent of a particular style or era then so what?
So some will say Sleeper are just doing what they did in the 90’s, but what they did in the 90’s was really great and The Modern Age is a great collection of songs that get better with every listen however “fresh” you may or may not think it sounds. The pacing drums, catchy guitar riffs and keyboard hooks are irresistible. For me the lyrics have always been the most interesting part of Sleepers music and Louise Wener’s breathy vocals deliver the crafted lyrics wonderfully. Its a great album that gets better with every listen, and even if you don’t remember Sleeper the first time round The Modern Age is worth checking out, and you can find it here.
Standout track: Car Into The Sea
I was watching TV the other night and a programme came on showcasing the nominees for the 2017 Mercury Music Prize. One band immediately caught my attention so this morning I listened to the previews on iTunes, got to the fifth track and decided it was a definite purchase. This debut album reminds me a lot of Britpop band Sleeper who I also really like. Sleeper’s lead singer Louise Wener wrote some really lyrically interesting songs which also contained catchy guitar hooks. Not to say that The Big Moon sound like a dated 90’s band. but they have a similarly pleasing and very enjoyable mix of guitars and lyrics. They sound like they had a lot of fun recording this and I get a feeling they will be great to see live so will definitely check out their next London dates.
Standout track: Pull The Other One
Alongside Blur and Oasis there were numerous other Britpop bands, of which Sleeper were one of the best. This album is there finest in my opinion and is a brilliant collection of songs. It is intelligently written and has the classic 90’s Britpop sound of catchy melodies and jangly guitar riffs. Louise Wener has one of those wonderfully distinctive voices that purrs the lyrics with a slight huskiness. This is a great album to listen to, particularly on a sunny day like today. Some are the tracks are less than 3 minutes, so you get that “hit and run” feeling, where the songs just arrive, do what they gotta do and bang, they’re gone. Sadly I never got to see them live, but I might get the chance now they have reformed earlier this year. If you have never checked out Sleeper this is a great album to start with.
Standout track: Statuesque