The Sleepy Jackson – Lovers

Lovers, the debut album from Australia’s The Sleepy Jackson, garnered four ARIA nominations (their homeland’s equivalent of the Grammy), and for good reason. Luke Steele and his bandmates have managed to meld a plethora of musical influences into a unique pop style and created a superb album that is both familiar and adventurous.

It is evident that growing up the son of a blues singer, frontman Steele was exposed to numerous musical styles, all of which seem to have influenced him to some degree. Originally an artist, Steele turned to music for his creative outlet so he could express himself three dimensionally instead of using only a two-dimensional canvas. What he did, along with producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Burnside and band members Malcolm Clark (organ, percussion, piano, strings, drums, synths) and Justin Burford (guitar, piano) was create a multi-dimensional sonic collage that extracts the best elements of music from decades past, including alt-country, 60s psych-pop, folk, and rock, and fused them together into a contemporary indie sound. It may not sound that good on paper, but given the strong songwriting and the band’s ability to groove, it sounds great on the stereo!

The opener “Dancers” hints at the good things to come, but The Sleepy Jackson really hit its stride with “Rain Falls For Wind” and “Tell the Girls I’m Not Hanging Out.” These three songs contain all of the aforementioned stylings and are fleshed out by including driving guitar rhythms, splendid sing-along choruses, and backing vocals. Buoyed by sunny synths, these tunes define the sound that is The Sleepy Jackson.

While all of the songs embody the band’s unique pop presence, “Vampire Racecourse” is the most straight-ahead rocker of the bunch. George Harrison’s influence is strongly felt on “Come to This,” which contains a slide guitar hook that will stay in your head for days, while “Old Dirt Farmer” and “Miniskirt” take an alt-country slant. The artists show their versatility on “Morning Rain” and “Acid in My Heart,” a couple of stripped-down, bittersweet ballads. Whether spinning stories of love and heartache or speaking in nonsensical metaphors, the lyrics always seem to fit the mood of the music. In fact “Fill Me With Apples” and “Morning Bird” are not so much songs as poetry set down on a musical canvas, the former being a spoken word tune and the latter sung by a little girl.

Lovers is an excellent debut album. The Sleepy Jackson managed to take a wide variety of styles and songs and create a cohesive album filled with energy, emotion, and melody that should appeal to everyone. If you like music and you don’t groove to at least a few of the songs on Lovers, there’s something seriously wrong with you.