This review was originally posted on Discovered Magazine in March 2019.
New Jersey alternative band Sleep In. are back with their sophomore LP, ‘The Stars On Your Ceiling’, their first release with Know Hope Records. Letting the music dictate the overall album direction, the band not needing to spend a great amount of time on the labouring of songwriting and arrangements, ‘The Stars on Your Ceiling’ offers hints of nostalgic influences from past genre releases while also presenting incredibly crafted songwriting we haven’t heard in a long time.
Turning it down a notch for this release, Sleep In. transitioned comfortably into a more pop-centric sound, something listeners may not be used to hearing from the band. Sleep In. also aimed to have the songwriting be at the forefront of this release, each track’s ear-catching lyrics sharing a real-life narrative inspired from events in the band’s lives while also offering life lessons and the opportunity for listeners to reflect on memories of their own.
“OFFERS HINTS OF NOSTALGIC INFLUENCES FROM PAST GENRE RELEASES WHILE ALSO PRESENTING INCREDIBLY CRAFTED SONGWRITING WE HAVEN’T HEARD IN A LONG TIME”
‘Honest Eyes’ is one that really encapsulates the album’s overall sound with strong guitar hooks, foot-tapping percussion and powerful storytelling lyrics listeners will easily be able to identify with like ‘can’t say that I’m surprised it ended this way honest eyes /I see right past your level of lies’. The track is also reminiscent of releases from decades ago, showcasing mid-tempo beats and simple song structure similar to what we heard during the early days of bands like Fireworks and even The Wonder Years.
With a distinct guitar riff weaved throughout the track, ‘This Old House’ is one of the more unique songs on the release. Sharing anecdotes of party nights that have come and gone with lyrics like ‘this house was built to stand the test of time/ kitchen talks and bedroom jams/carpet stains from spilling cans’, the song brings every listener back to moments in their lives that included house parties and being around good company.
“TAKING THEIR OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCES AND TRANSFORMING THEM INTO BEAUTIFULLY COMPOSED LYRICS”
Inspired by vocalist Tom Fowler’s childhood days of travelling and making his core group of friends, ‘Day Dream’ is a standout moment on ‘The Stars On Your Ceiling’. Offering a nostalgic dialogue of the trials and tribulations that happen while growing up, ‘Day Dream’ discusses the drawbacks of making and losing friends before closing out the song with the repetition of the lyrics ‘it’s alright’, allowing the listener to realize that going through these moments is part of growing up, but help make us stronger in the end.
Overall, ‘The Stars On Your Ceiling’ doesn’t offer anything new musically, the instrumental production of mid-tempo beats, punchy guitar riffs and rather simple percussion elements all being very similar to what we have heard within the genre already. However, the lyrical content of each track is something to praise immensely. Taking their own personal experiences and transforming them into beautifully composed lyrics, listeners are able to relate personally to what is presented on this album, relating the stories back to moments in their own lives. So while the musical production is not something to jump for joy over, it does allow the songwriting on ‘The Stars On Your Ceiling’ to take the spotlight, creating a listening experience that is enjoyable without being overwhelming, offering the opportunity for listeners to travel back in time to moments that have long since passed.