From the opening barrelhouse piano chords on the first cut off of their first full-length album, Measures, Walking Sleep announces its bold declaration of powerpop confection drenched in boy-girl harmonies singing dark, disturbing lyrics. Think of The Shins with Juliana Hatfield on vocals, or Belle and Sebastian with a touch of Arcade Fire.
This six-piece California band, formerly known as The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, came together to flesh out lead singer Hunter Curra’s songs. Sara Radle of The Rentals joined in 2009 after the release of their first EP, Escapements. Actually, she reminds me of Australian band Frente’s female lead singer, Angie Hart. Anyone remember, Marvin the Album?
Their embrace of ’60s sonics is firm on the second cut “In a Dream,” where a swirling Farfisa organ brackets the chorus: “I had a dream last night you were choking me/ I want to know where that came from/ You were calling me by name and asking me to speak/ Now I want to know, how come?”
“Final Chapter” is a bit of a raver about a love relationship that is either on its last legs or about to jump into the big “C” of everlasting commitment.
Following that, the band slows down with “As a Volunteer,” a reverb guitar-drenched ballad with fetching harmonies and a Leslie organ (or a synth approximating the sound of it) about realizing that what you wanted is gone before you realized it’s what you wanted.
The theme of longing and letting go is revisited from a different angle with the orchestral “Let It Go On.” Once again, Farfisa organ is lurking behind the curtains of this number as it builds to a crescendo that evokes Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” albeit at twice the running time.
“Arso” comes back with a spare arrangement about a friend that the band members seem to have lost in Modesto. That’s followed by the Dick Dale surf guitars and drumming of “Don’t Be Fooled.” I love the cheesy organ break. Hey, guys, the Zombies called, and they want their organ solo back!
I also like “What We Forgot,” a song about a relationship that seems to be costing the couple everything, including their friends, and wondering if they’ve reached the expiration date on their love, with the line about trying to make it one more night.
All the songs maintain a dream state with the use of reverb, echo, and Farfisa. It’s an album with catchy riffs and lyrics that occasionally catch you off-guard. Overall, a promising effort. I hope to hear more of this band.
Walking Sleep: www.walkingsleep.com