Imagine the White Stripes mixed with fond childhood lullabies wrapped in the embrace of indie music. Although this is a tougher task than most are willing to attempt, Sleeping in the Aviary does just that in their new album, Expensive Vomit in a Cheap Hotel released Monday as the band continues an ambitious cross-country tour.
Hopefully showgoers know what they are getting themselves into, as this new album will indeed overcome them with confusing emotions. At first, the music seems nice enough; it creates a melting pot of easygoing background music and upbeat singing. But don’t be fooled: Randomly throughout the tracks, horrible screamish noises attack the senses. Such a scenario might be compared to the feeling of betrayal when a cute animal approaches innocently and then viciously bites a person’s arm off. ?Switching back and forth between happy-go-lucky indie tunes and potential headaches might leave a listener wishing they had access to some Advil.
Ignoring the poorly done screamo interjections, the rest of the album can be defined as successful amateur indie music. Some of the songs sound like they were recorded in a bathroom or a basement, which two were, but, nonetheless, these are still well-produced bathroom and basement recordings.
With the album’s mostly slow tempo, it’s impossible to ignore the lyrics, which, like the general feel of the songs, are weird to a fascinating extent. Still, half the lyrics are poetic puzzles. “Write On” is particularly odd with lyrics such as, “Like a hanging noose when the knot is loose/ Gonna cup both my hands and trap this fly,” and “Like a plastic bag’s a confederate flag/ Gonna drift into the water supply.” The eccentric writing style is explained in another set of lyrics: “I’m singing songs, but I don’t know what they’re about.” It’s possible no one else does either.
The other half of the songs are disturbingly honest. In “I’m Old,” vocalist Elliott Kozel sings “My parents are both patients and my pets they are all dead/ No one seems to like me so I pretend I am well-read.” And in “Things Look Good,” we find ideas like “My mother sleeps in a bag on the floor/ With my sister but she does not cry anymore.” These are more significant than random words, and they successfully provoke the listener to wonder about the true meaning behind them.
Some albums are required to have parental advisory labels, but this one should have a label that says “Try and Figure Out at Your Own Risk.” Between the confusing switches from laid-back music to gross half screams and the either insanely confusing or blatantly honest lyrics, this album will have listeners’ heads spinning. Although Advil may be required to fully enjoy the album, something must be said for its ability to knock a listener off the normal track on which they probably reside. Sleeping in the Aviary took on the challenge of mixing sounds and ideas in Expensive Vomit in a Cheap Hotel, and even though they created something fascinating, it’s important to remember that fascinating isn’t always fun.
2 stars out of 5