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Album Review: Stay The Same by Sunsleeper

This EP proves one thing unequivocally: the emo revival movement is alive and well in the state of Utah.

By Alessandro Improta

Sunsleeper is a new emo/rock band out of Salt Lake City. Comprised of several local veterans, they bring a lot of experience and professionalism to the table. Their first EP, Stay The Same, released in July of this year, is a perfect example of a band knowing exactly the sound they are going for and how to achieve it.

The opening track, “Come Back Home,” sets the tone for the rest of the EP. If you had no idea who Sunsleeper was, a minute and a half into “Come Back Home” you would have a pretty good idea. Loud and distorted, yet somehow ethereal, the guitar work in the intro and throughout the louder sections of this song reminds me a lot of Deafheaven’s. The song’s first moment of brilliance starts only 40 seconds in when the backup vocals show up. With how loud they start the song, a nice musical touch like that is unexpected, but very, very welcome. Sunsleeper does things a little different than most contemporary emo bands in that they have a slightly more traditional song structure. By that I mean that they have a section I would feel comfortable calling a chorus. Not that this is unheard of, but it is often not the case. Overall, this is a fantastic, accessible opening track that draws you in, and makes you want to hear the rest of the EP.

Sunsleeper is (from left to right): Thys Pendley, Jeffery Mudgett, Scott Schilling, and Eli Freebairn. Photo by Heather Rowland Photography.

Two songs later we come across the title track, “Stay The Same.” Maybe the most emotionally charged song, most of it is just one electric guitar leaving a lot of space for vocals to deliver the message. Because of this, the lyrics are much more audible and carry more weight. Lines like: “I don’t recognize your face when I see you. I know that people change. It’s not expected from you, but I’ll probably change, too” talk about the loss of something familiar and the inevitability of everyone and everything around you becoming something else. These kinds of straightforward lyrics that portray existential thoughts are part of the reason why this genre has such a devoted following. At the end of this relatively short track is a build starting at 1:48 and lasting the rest of the song. After delivering their thoughts lyrically, this build seems like Sunsleeper is delivering the message musically. It’s the perfect way to end it.

Sunsleeper closes this five-song EP with, “Best Friends Forget.” This song is absolutely fantastic. For just under 4 minutes, Sunsleeper takes you on a journey from section to section. No two sections of the song sound quite like any previous one, with each building slowly in intensity until the song reaches a climactic level for the last 45 seconds or so. This is the kind of song that would be incredibly moving live. It is also a great way to end the EP. Track by track this release is great, but what separates it from others of its kind is that it would make a great live set, and thus makes it easy to listen to it in its entirety.

Stay The Same is a great EP that I would recommend to anyone. Considering the fact that it is Sunsleeper’s first release, I am incredibly impressed, though not surprised. If nothing else, this EP – along with several other local releases – proves one thing unequivocally: the emo revival movement is alive and well in the state of Utah.

Make sure to like Sunsleeper on Facebook and check out “Best Friends Forget” below. If you like what you hear, head on over to Bandcamp to purchase the album.

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