Small Leaks Sink Ships – Until The World Is Happy; Wake Up You Sleepyhead Sun

Small Leaks Sink Ships
Until The World Is Happy; Wake Up You Sleepyhead Sun

Armed with an intriguing band name, a beguiling title for their debut album and cool looking pop-art graphics, the Arizona quartet that is Small Leaks Sink Ships don’t hide the fact that they are influenced by early Modest Mouse, The Mars Volta and Minus the Bear. But being armed with the proper tools and using them effectively are mutually exclusive.

Until The World Is Happy; Wake Up You Sleepyhead Sun contains it’s fair share of Minus the Bear-style winding guitar interplay, Modest Mouse-like frenetic rock fragments and the hard-edged experimentalism of The Mars Volta. It also includes some smooth piano licks and rabid live drumming. But these elements seem put together haphazardly, due to a lack of coherent songwriting, and with spastic vocals that often border on screamo, the whole ends up being less than the sum of it’s parts.

There’s not much variation between the 10 tracks offered here as SLSS only occasionally break from their oil and vinegar mixture of fractured and chaotic clips of thrashing bass and thumping drums with some polished piano playing and a few artistic transitions. But these moments are infrequent and often contain awkward choruses and no pop hooks. The complex rhythms and intricately layered, technical instrumental work can only carry the listener so far without any strong song structure. The exceptions being the more tuneful “Dear Dictator” and “Sick On Substance”.

To say vocals are not the band’s strong suit is an understatement, but it doesn’t stop them from placing the vocals up front in the mix. Tracks such as “The Flood” and “Sackcloth In Ashes” come close to the engaging indie-prog of “Sick On Substance” but the harsh, sometimes maniacal, vocal rants are too distracting and don’t allow the listener to focus on the music. “Dear Dictator” being the lone exception where the vocals are toned down and embellished with some spirited harmonies that sound eerily similar to a Polyphonic Spree refrain.

While a few tracks on Until The World Is Happy; Wake Up You Sleepyhead Sun flirt with decent, adventurous indie-prog, most are discordant and turbulent with spastic vocals spewed with unguided frenzy, ultimately producing an inconsistent offering. Look to the RIYLs if you want to hear some proper, progressive indie-rock.