The first chord on The Big Sleep’s third album is knocked about longer than the band’s hiatus from the world: a world which had bestowed them rave notices since their inception in the early 2000s. The chord, you feel, drains some colour out of the song – #1 – itself. But has the hiatus drained the colour out of The Big Sleep?
#1 has echoes of Thurston Moore’s histrionics, when he finally rips his vocals to shreds on 1988’s Hey Joni. Their previous records had seen The Big Sleep shepherded with Sonic Youth – not helped by the fact that both bands come from New York.
Ace has a sense of nature close to its chest. Its atmosphere is built from tornadoes – augmented in effect by harmonics and Bela Lugosi’s Dead -type guitar chops and changes. Amidst this is a compelling melodic hook, sung with sanguine detachment by Sonya Balchandani.
If Ace suggests the post-punk aesthetic then Valentine puts a subtle foot on the next chronological step, with bursts of saw-tooth synthesizer riffs. The Big Sleep go for the anthem gesture without making it vulgar. Ghosts in Bodies is its antithesis, with Balchandani’s detachment calming down proceedings, until an ending that catches you by surprise.
Red Carpets is laid out to resemble elements of Valentine but is more of a stomper, with Balchandani again putting a persuasive argument across.
Nature Experiments sounds like it might not hold any significant appeal to some: however its appeal is thick. The reason why this quite experimental record works is that The Big Sleep are not postcard musicians. There is a level of intelligence to their work, and producing three records in six years is a large hint that they take care in what they want to project. And, like nature itself, they’re not to be disturbed nor rushed.