Album Review: “Please, Reconnect…” by Sleep Dealer
Sleep Dealer is a post-hardcore/emo/math rock band currently residing in St. George. This band consists of Austin Graves (guitar, lead vocals), Patrick Swansborough (guitar, vocals), Tyler Huff (bass, vocals), and Alek Wiltbank (drums, vocals). This band’s high-energy shows have taken the Sotah local music scene by storm and have been a legitimate contributor of how strong it has become in the past year.
“Please, Reconnect…” is possibly one of the strongest first studio efforts to be released in a long time. Although it is shorter and only provides us with four songs (not including the intro track), it is more than enough to tide Sleep Dealer’s passionate fan base by just fine until hopefully the release of a debut album. Each and every song is polished, full of passion, and introspective from first guitar riff to last lyric. It also should be noted that from the rough demo of the first few songs, the studio vocals have evolved and should be acknowledged for being incredibly strong.
The EP starts off with an instrumental intro titled “L+R+A+Start.” It is a very relaxing tune, good for waking up alarms and video game intros. That is before it cohesively explodes into this band’s first single, “M’aiq The Liar.”
“M’aiq The Liar” is the only song on this EP that I would describe as aggressive, despite the hardcore atmosphere that this band carries with them. Although this song is aggressive, it is also very danceable, upbeat, and fast paced, leaving any fan of this vein of music unable to keep from swaying and moving while the lyrics take us through the brief yet poetically spoken story of a broken soul trying to get through hard times with their counterpart. Needless to say, its placement as lead of the full piece is not only appropriate but necessary.
Next in the mix is the death-defying “Clocktown Brewing Company.” Although less on the technical side of this band’s music, this track is truly special and has been a fan favorite rightfully so from first live performanc, to demo to finished studio effort. It starts off slowly as our lovely lead vocalist Graves tells the story of one who quickly goes from being happily involved in love to abandoned. The passion truly bleeds through as whoever this song is about is determined to not give in to their tragic circumstances, and they sing angelically to the sky, “I’ve patched up my old wounds with promises of bright tomorrows stitched tight with these half-hearted hopes.” Throughout all this, the visible build-up goes through its cycle and crashes into the head-banging breakdown that carries this track through with complete power, vigor, and passion.
The followup to this is the melancholy “The World That Never Was (Ian’s Song).” This song is not only a “Kingdom Hearts” reference but a heartfelt tribute to an actual person who was close friends with the band members and passed away in the summer of 2016. This track features instrumental melodies that in my opinion prove that instruments can sometimes provide twice the emotion of any vocalist no matter how passionate. The lyrics reciprocate perfectly the feeling of losing someone and having to let go of them, possibly one of the most difficult emotional processes that we all face as people at one point or another. The highlights of this track include the dual screaming of the chorus from both Graves and Huff, which makes this track even more hard hitting and profound, and the tappy and impressively fast-paced breakdown backs even more intense, screamed vocals from Swansborough.
Closing the EP is the heartbreaking “The Great Hollow,” an intense tale of facing self-provoked loneliness backed with a multitude of arpeggios. It is a good representation of Sleep Dealer’s intention to be a sad band and closes off the album in what I would call a truly emo and relatable note. And with two guitars tapping in harmony, it makes for a great end.
Criticisms for this exquisite work are few. Sleep Dealer obviously has a bright future ahead of them, and I hope to see more of them defying the genre and pushing limits, which their live shows definitely provide. In future recordings, the drums deserve a little more pound for sure to make the works more explosive. Continually, I think although Sleep Dealer is easily classifiable as an emo band, it does a good job of setting up a sound that is individual to it and highlights the talents of each of the individual members. As a fan of this style of music, I give this EP a strong recommendation. Needless to say, however, the effort put into it truly shows, and any self-respecting musician would at least agree on that whether this is their cup of tea or not.
“Please, Reconnect…” is available at sleepdealeremo.bandcamp.com or at the Arborist display stands at Perks! in Washington and Jazzy’s.