Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sleep ∞ Over: Forever is composed of nows

Stepfanie Franciotti recently had to deal with a falling out of sorts. Her fellow members in Sleep ∞ Over, Christa Palazzo and Sarah Brown, split during the recording of their debut album, leaving Franciotti as the sole member of the band.

But if you thought would slow her down, think twice. She finished the project solo and has bestowed upon us Forever, a stimulating foray into the world of richly textured noise/dream pop.

The music in general is very airy and spaced out, with a liberal dose of ambiance and a strong propensity to set a mood. Francotti's ethereal vocals quietly slip into a track and gently wash over you, subtly coloring the atmosphere and setting your mind at ease. Think Beach House, My Friend Wallis, and Silver Pines.

"Romantic Streams" is the clear standout track, and easily one of the best songs of the year. It is very reverent and powerful while being catchy at the same time. When Franciotti's whispy voice mixes with the somber, subdued synth melody, pure magic happens. Then drums intensify near the end which creates an even more stunning effect.

"Romantic Streams" is practically worth the price of the album on it own. Which is a good thing, because none of the other tracks on the album can quite match it. "Casual Diamond" and "Stickers" feature strong melodies, but don't possess the same punch in the gut effect as "Romantic Streams."

From there, you move into more experimental and spaced out territory. In interviews, Franciotti has testified to being a black metal fan, and some of the atmospheric elements found in that style of music are also present on Forever. Particularly effective is "Cryingame," which is ominous, foreboding, and mildly disturbing. The rest of the cuts don't stick with me that much due.

Some of them are nice, like "Behind Closed Doors. Some of them are bizarre, like "Untitled," which is 24 seconds of what sounds like a demented merry-go-round. But I like to hear a strong central hook, and some of these are a bit too ambient for my taste.

The album title was inspired by an Emily Dickinson quote - "Forever is composed of nows."

Don't expect Forever to be the album that gets her noticed now.

Stepfanie Franciotti is a definite talent and brings a fresh approach to a watered down genre, but Forever is just too inconsistent for me to consider it a great album. If there were a few more tracks like "Romantic Streams" and a few less like "Flying Saucers Are Real," we would have had a real winner on our hands.

Score: 76/100

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