I first heard about Sleep ∞ Over when I was researching the Pure X article we did a few weeks back. The artists have shared bills and are apparently friends, so I filed them into the memory banks with an intent to keep an eye out if I saw anything else. Well, these past few days have been good to the band – which these days has apparently been whittled down to consisting solely of Stefanie Franciotti. Gorilla Vs. Bear posted about them on Friday, and Sleep ∞ Over has taken off around the blogosphere since then. The appeal has crossed the Atlantic, with even The Guardian picking them up yesterday. The fuss is all over the new track “Romantic Streams,” which has been released as the lead single off of Sleep ∞ Over’s upcoming debut LP Forever, due out September 27th. (Though “Bathsalts” was apparently leaked early on, it definitely is not single material.)
So why is this song suddenly blowing Sleep ∞ Over through the roof of the Internet? The short answer is that it’s riding the coattails of the immensely successful new album Within and Without by Washed Out. This recent release is the new standard-bearer for the roughly two-year-old chillwave movement, featuring catchy but relaxing songs like “Amor Fati,” and imitators are likely to follow. However, it doesn’t take a genius to hear that “Romantic Streams” is much slower and deliberate. In this sense it’s a combination of Washed Out’s heavily electronic ear candy, and Pure X’s lethargic live instrumentation soundscapes. The vocals are breathy and ethereal in the mode of Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins, and the chorus (1:09 – 1:32) emphasizes this by eschewing lyrics entirely. The music behind that voice is comprised of a sparse beat superimposed over drawn-out chords and a jumpy synth line. The whole package creates a fairly soothing sonic texture that from which Franciotti deviates by stripping away the beat at one point or by piling on the intertwining vocals at another – creating emotional peaks and valleys over the course of the song’s 3:47.
In fact, it’s the evident emotions that really elevate this song for me above the texturally similar output from Pure X. All of “Romantic Streams”‘s elements (structure, vocal delivery, melody, etc.) align perfectly to elicit the titular feeling from the listener. It’s hard not to feel affection for that special someone while listening to this song despite there being about a dozen discernable words delivered. Franciotti is able to convey a warmth through her electronic haze that isn’t always present in many of her contemporaries. In her earlier work (such as the Outer Limits EP), she laid a good foundation for this style, but if the rest of Forever comes close to “Romantic Streams” it could be one of the best Austin albums of the year. And either way, between Pure X and Sleep ∞ Over there seems to be a distinct new aesthetic attracting national attention out of Austin. As always, we’re keeping our ear to the ground, but if you know of any other acts in this vein, please let us know! And we’ll remind you as September 27th rolls around so you can grab Forever when it drops.