I’m flying out to Las Vegas this weekend for the When We Were Young festival. Although I still have two full days of work and three shows before that, my mind is already on the Las Vegas strip being dazzled by the lights, sounds and energy of the city. Honestly, I love Las Vegas and can’t wait to be there but I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not there yet and I still have plenty of work to do before I can thoroughly enjoy my little vacation. Thankfully, one of the items on my to-do list is to review Sleep City’s brand new EP, ‘A Place I Never Left’ and, double thankfully, this EP hit just the right chord with me giving me both a chance to calm down and find the motivation to get more done while also giving me a reminder of the good times that are sure to come this weekend.
“Delicate Tasters” is the first track on this seven song EP. The song starts off with a very lo-fi vibe. The sound of crashing waves in the background and a somber yet powerful keyboard part set the tone here. Not quite the tone of the album, but the tone of my night. I found peace in this opening track and felt like this song gave me a moment to reset, catch my breath, and get in the mood for some new music.
Like I mentioned, “Delicate Tasters” doesn’t quite set the tone of this album and what I mean by that is, when the second track, “s m o o t h c i t y” kicks in, it hits you like a ton of bricks. There’s a clear emo and pop-punk influence in this second track. Dazzling guitars mixed with highly emotive lyrics and heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics, I was instantly in love. The drums here are so powerful yet they don’t over power everything else going on in the track which is a delicate balance to pull off. Sleep City clearly has a way of giving nods to the bands of years gone by while throwing their own spin on it and that’s a huge selling point of this second (but, really, first) song of this album.
“I Hope Those Streams Come Back To Us” continues to showcase Sleep City’s delicate balance between power and beauty. This song has a ridiculously infectious beat and there’s something about the instrumentation at the beginning that reminded me a bit of old school Motion City Soundtrack before the track settles into just a good ol’ fashioned jam. Listening to this third track continued to help me find peace in my head while getting me absolutely amped for the upcoming weekend. Beyond that, hearing this song really sparked my love for Sleep City. You know when you hear those songs and it’s just an instant classic to you? That’s what happened as this song played through. Although I have only heard this the one time, I already can’t wait to put this on the daily playlists of my life and listen to it over and over and over and over again.
Another instant classic is “What a Mint!”. This song seems to focus on the more tender side of Sleep City which I really adore. The vocals take a turn and bring a more Mayday Parade feel to this track while the prominent yet perfectly placed guitar work adds this sense of glitter and stars to the song. All good pop-punk and emo albums have a heartbreaking ballad-like song on them but I feel like some bands do that just because they have to. Listening through “What a Mint!”, it’s clear to hear that Sleep City isn’t doing this slower song out of necessity but rather because it’s just a stunning track. Sure, it’s slower and stands out against the previous tracks but it has the same heart-on-sleeve feeling and still no lack of energy and emotion. Although I don’t think this will land on my daily playlist just due to wanting more upbeat tracks lately, this song left me absolutely speechless.
Another classic pop-punk move is having a song with a title that seems just a little weird. Enter: “The Tummy Problem Song”. The fifth track on this EP, Sleep City brings back their undeniable sense of energy and classic pop-punk vibes for this song. Honestly, as this song played, I tuned out a little bit. Typically when that happens, it means that it’s a bad or boring song but, in the case of “The Tummy Problem Song”, it was more that I just felt so comfortable as this played. It was like a childhood toy coming back to life and giving me a sense of comfort that I had been longing for for years. This just goes to show how perfectly Sleep City has nailed their sound.
“lovethisforus” is the “final” track on this album. I only say that because track number seven is more of a bonus addition. I’m thankful that this isn’t the final-final track on the record because, as this song played through, I knew I wanted so much more. Again, I just found myself swimming in nostalgia while anxiously scouring the internet for more material from Sleep City. This track definitely has power in it like “s m o o t h c i t y” but it also brings back the tenderness that came to fruition in “What a Mint!”. Again, this balance is something that I’ve heard so many pop-punk and emo bands try to pull off but it just never seems to work out well. I’m not sure what Sleep City is drinking but they have nailed the balance. The ending of this track is just as flawless as the rest of the album. Like usual, I’m not going to give it away but the ending here is so triumphant and energizing. It gave me all of the energy I needed to power through the rest of my night.
As mentioned, there’s a “bonus track” on this release that comes in the form of the acoustic track, “mr. smoothers”. Looking online, I’m not seeing that the band has a “full band” version of this song on their previous EP, ‘Anything Special’ from 2022 but that doesn’t matter. Whether this is a replay of an older song or not, this acoustic track stands alone. Although acoustic, I feel like the energy of this track is closer to some of the more upbeat tracks on ‘A Place I Never Left’ rather than relating closely to “What a Mint!” which was a bit surprising. Don’t get me wrong, when they say this is an acoustic song, they mean it and there’s almost a folksy singer-songwriter tone to it but the energy that comes with that keeps this from being just another soft song.
Long story short, ‘A Place I Never Left’ from Sleep City is worth your attention right now. Congrats to Sleep City on an amazing album!
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