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Hang In There Charlie

Sleep Station

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Album Review

Word has it that Dave Debiak, Sleep Station's lead singer and songwriter, started out with 40 finished songs and had to whittle them down to 14 for this album. (Apparently two more new albums from the band were planned to be out within about six months of this one.) That's impressive enough. Even more impressive is how Debiak manages to take a horrifying story of death and treachery in an orbiting space station, encapsulate it in those 14 songs, and couch it in music that is so sweet and pretty that you'd have to listen very carefully to the words before you would notice the horrors being described. Not that all of it is quiet or gentle, though the album's two opening tracks, "Fading Out" and "Fallen," certainly fit that description — "Broke Your Trust" and "Bleed With You" are both muscular alt-rock that recalls middle-period R.E.M., while the album-closing "One More" interestingly juxtaposes fun-house organ, an offbeat horn chart, and tattered, grungy guitars. Then there's the blippy synthesizer that lurks subversively beneath the surface on "Flight-1" and the darkly ruminative quality of "In My Dying Days." But no matter how strange or rockish things get, Debiak consistently maintains that strange sense of gentle tenderness. Also, the hooks are just all over the place. Recommended.

Hang In There Charlie, Sleep Station
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