The Sleepy Jackson
Personality One Was a Spider, One Was a Bird (Astralwerks)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Sept. 1, 2006
The Sleepy Jackson
Personality One Was a Spider, One Was a Bird (Astralwerks)With their second LP, the Sleepy Jackson cultivate a lovely mélange of (Robyn) Hitchcockian art-pop and meticulously engineered soft rock hits of the Seventies. It's as though this Perth, Australia, collective led by Luke Steele is crafting the soundtrack of some transistor radio daydream. Steele's singular vocal style contributes to this heavily flanged altered state, and if nailing a sound were the sole consideration, the Sleepy Jackson would fit comfortably alongside bygone hits like Jigsaw's "Sky High" and Pilot's "Magic." Unfortunately, Steele's meandering songcraft often undermines the majestic atmosphere, leaving only a lethargically fading wisp where there should have been a grand gesture. Opener "You Needed More" starts with potential before collapsing in on itself. The most infectious of the lot is "I Understand What You Want but I Just Don't Agree," which floats along on a subtle nod to Motown and immaculate Philly soul played by the 20/20 Orchestra. "God Knows" coalesces around a bubblegum steel guitar riff and lush vocal harmonies that give it the patina of a runner-up in the Eurovision song contest circa 1976. Just a little less inscrutability, and this could have been a real contender.
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