Fresh Kill: Whimsical – Sleep to Dream
We at Strawberry Tongue were delighted to be among the select few to be gifted the up-coming album “Sleep to Dream,” by shoegaze artist Whimsical. Although “Sleep to Dream” will be released on February 24, it is actually over 16 years in the making since the initial recordings began in 2005. Not too long after, the band took a long hiatus. A hiatus broken by signing to Saint Marie Records. And so the bones of “Sleep to Dream,” where exhumed and life has been given anew to the once shelved album.
Like a gently sweeping wave of calm, “Love Me” opens the album. Yes, delay can be heard in the guitar, and reverb obviously employed, but there is no gaudiness. It does not “try” to be a shoegaze song in fact, the straightforward manner that its played along with psychedelic guitar flourishes would make it hard to try to fit in one box or the other, save for the ethereal, and beautifully husky, vocals of Krissy Vanderwoude. Vanderwoud’s pleading lyrics, “Tell me, is this what you wan’t, I need to know. Should I hold on?,” are juxtaposed with the shimmering and bright instrumentation of the song.
Whilst musically “Love Me,” acted as a perfect and not overly intricate foundation for Vanderhoude to imbue with otherworldly vocals, “Lost and Found,” shows multiple dimensions. Begining with a sweetly daydreaming guitar line, perfectly synced with a harmonizing bass (courtesy of Neil Burkdoll and Mike Milliron on guitar and Brian Booher on bass ). It is lilting, almost a slowdance worthy romance of a song, and then the break hits midway and the beat hastens, guitars ascend and bass thrums in a sort of reverie. That is not to say that vocals take a back seat at all, they are the icing on the cake. Most definitely a favorite of this reviewer.
“Surreal” keeps the pace going, with an intro that is vaguely Pixie-esque. Perhaps its strange to think of when listening to a shoegaze act, but I can most definitely imagine myself pogoing along to this bouncing and upbeat track. Lyrics, sweet, adorned with the googly grin love can bring. “Flutter Echo,” brings the air of moodiness back to the album. “I don’t know where this road is going to lead us, I don’t know where it goes,” Vanderhoude sings. The uncertainty is mirrored in the music, which is evocative of angst and anguish. Of course the song is wrapped up with the heavenly bow that dreampop and shoegaze music is so effective at utilizing. A killer guitar solo on this track as well.
“Beginning of the End,” carries forth the preceding tracks heavy vein, though angst is replaced by a a feeling of protective self-isolation and resigned acceptance. This track is the musical equivalent of a lover coming to grips that the relationship might be one that can only hurt more than give. The bass is a standout on this track, a bit funky even in the way it moves up and down the octaves. The bouncy jaunting style of “Surreal” and “Lost and Found” is married to the moodier sounds of the other tracks in “I thought of You.”
The introduction of the piano on “Leap of Faith” does not detract from the sounds and moods built up heretofore, but adds, giving a serious quality to the dark guitar and bass lines. In fact, as a bit of a former gothling, I really really love the guitar line that plays in the verses, which is in a way reminiscent of the whole Sisters influenced Second Wave Gothic Rock. The snare driven drums on the bridge should also be applauded here (kudos Andy Muntean).
The Slowdive influence is most pronounced on the title track “Sleep to Dream”. Lilting drums, multi-layered vocals, delay and reverb infused guitars wash over and pull you like a tide taking the listener out to a soft and rolling serene sea. The music shimmers like the sun, hitting and being reflected by those moving waters. Definitely another one of my favorites on this album.
“Sleep to Dream” will be available February 24th. However, it is available for digital pre-sale right now. If the gentler side of shoegaze is your thing this album is for you.
You can pre-order the album at: https://saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com/album/sleep-to-dream