‘If you can’t say anything good, say nothing at all’ goes the saying. Or perhaps that should be ‘if something sounds this good, there’s no need to say much at all’. Although They Don’t Sleep are sparing with vocals they let the music do the talking which thankfully loses none of its epic live beauty on these four tracks.
The flirtation between painfully desolate piano sections to deafening six-string assaults is shown on opener ‘Scarecrow’ which repeatedly builds and collapses like a stack of playing cards. After six minutes the song finally reaches a beautiful peak and crosses into a pining Mercury Rev style coda lamenting that: “The lights in here slowly fade.”
‘All Forgotton, Never Spoken’ is the closest the band get to a standard song in terms of arrangement, with a lullaby piano and military drumming merging together in a stately fashion for a track which practically sighs through the speakers. It evokes the much underrated Tom McRae on tracks such as ‘2nd Law’, sharing the same vulnerability and is such a deeply personal song, it feels almost voyeuristic to listen to.
Instrumental ‘…And Then There Was No One’ perfectly matches its title by conjuring up a feeling of forlornly turning the lights off on another painful day. Built around a lonely piano part, it could soundtrack a million bruised souls who have lost something cherished before losing control and reeling around in despair and anguish.
However it is the splendour of closing track ‘The Others’ which causes the most emotional damage as a listener. It feels like ‘Adagio for Strings’ re-written for a four-piece band, (and succeeding), which is something of a hefty compliment. It’s hard to say what the song is actually about other than being drenched in sadness, while the band themselves can only offer that it is “an ambiguous affair that deals with loss and conscience.”
Instead of a piercing string section for emotional muscle, the song builds into a thunderous primal scream of emotion which pummels your ears and leaves you emotionally crippled once the feedback comes to a screeching halt. With enough emotional clout to fill the Grand Canyon twice over, these songs have the ability to leave you speechless. The band might not sleep but after listening to something this beautifully crafted you’ll rarely felt as awake.
8Matthew Butler's Score