It was just six months ago that I reviewed Great Vacation. Sure, I was a few months behind the trolley on that one, but the fact that Sleeping in the Aviary has already kicked out another record, You and Me, Ghost, speaks to their dedication and work ethic. Or maybe Elliott Kozel and company just can’t put down their writing pens. While there’s only so much point to comparing a new release with its predecessor, the short length of time in between makes it a touch more relevant. The primary difference that listeners of You and Me, Ghost will find is a dedication to '60s pop and doo-wop taking over the structures, giving the band a more defined sound and making the indie pop label more accurate than ever, with a bit of a Brian Wilson sheen to it. The record also has an ambiguous theme surrounding love—not the mushy stuff, but more the personal, first-person insecurity than comes with the emotion, and Kozel’s abstract lyricism is a perfect pairing for such a tone.
The record starts out with a few of the heavier songs—not to call it heavy music, but the guitars on “Talking Out of Turn” and “Love Police” and definitely louder and more driving than on the latter, choral-focused songs. For the most part, though, the album follows Kozel’s tangential lyrics that wander in a storytelling fashion, sticking on a general subject but hitting it from varied, sometimes ambiguous angles. The subject, for most of the record, is the positives and the pitfalls of love. To back such a theme, what better musical style to conjure than doo-wop? Most of the songs include some type of “sha la la” chorus and “On the Way Home” even mimics the frontman stylings of the genre. All of this is peripheral and complementary in the songwriting though. At the core, Sleeping in the Aviary play slacker indie pop with an off-kilter, wanderlust tone. The doo-wop simply gives the songs structure along with a musical nod to their influences.
Much like “The Very Next Day I Died” on Great Vacation, the highlights here come when Kozel explores relationships in connection with the process of aging. “Karen, You’re an Angel” should be too cute for its own good, but the earnestness of the song holds true and it stands as a highlight of the band’s strengths. It’s the type of song that will make its way to many-a-mixtapes, isolating the subtlety of the lyrics and the power of the melody. Compared with their last record, the doo-wop bent gives a greater cohesion and makes the record stand strong as a whole.
7.1 / 10
Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:
Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.