I’ve been listening to an advance copy of Sleepybird’s new cd, The Sadness Will Last Forever. It’s a stunning album, but one that takes several listens to absorb and comprehend, which was also the case with their previous, All Things Are Mine.
A little history. My neighbor is a talented and successful ceramic artist named Justin Teilhet. He gave me a cd by his friend’s band that he said was great. I was skeptical. I don’t think much of the Dayton music scene (if there is one)—I also didn’t think much of the music scene (if there was one) in New York when I lived there. I’m a snob because I used to live in Austin, a city with a real music scene.
I played the album, and at first it didn’t do much for me. It sat for a few weeks. They would be performing at a new year’s party that my wife and I were going to. Knowing that I would be hearing them live and possibly meeting them, I thought I would listen a few more times. On what I remember as the fourth listen, it hit me. This was good stuff. Stuff that builds and grows, songs that linger in the subconscious (which is where all good things linger).
We went to the party, met the singer/songwriter/leader Nick Tertel, and his wife. The band played in the living room. Not everyone can sound good in a living room, especially if you have as diverse instrumentation as they did: standup bass/synth/theramin player, trombone, violin, guitar, two keyboard players. They did sound better than good, and this was just the first of several times hearing the band play live.
I’ve previously heard live most of the songs on The Sadness Will Last Forever, but I didn’t know which ones would make the album. And I’m not sure I’ve heard the title song before (because of the toddler in the house I haven’t been able to get out and hear them live in a long time).
I don’t know how to describe music, and don’t like to try. I wrote record reviews for my college newspaper but got bored with it. I could compare this to other things that might be recognizable. It shares some things with Neutral Milk Hotel, but doesn’t sound like them. The songs are long, with layers of sound-texture, from keyboards, strings, brass. The lyrics tend toward elliptic. The singing is haunting, delivering the words but not dominating the arrangements.
Like All Things Are Mine, The Sadness Will Last Forever didn’t reveal itself on first listen, but has grown with each successive time I’ve heard it. It makes the ears shine.
Some art doesn’t hit you in the face. Some art seeps in. Some art you have to approach on its terms, not your own. I’ve long felt that way about my writing, that it’s out of place in the world of speed and immediacy, and I’m gratified to find other artists with like sensibilities.