Some individuals have knowledge and wisdom beyond their years, prompting the idea that, “Some people are just born old”. One possible group of contenders are Snakadaktal. The indie pop quintet won Unearthed High in 2011 and range in age from 18 to 20, but their debut LP hints at a sound by artists at least a decade or two older.
Sleep In The Water was always going to have a great deal of expectation thrust upon it. The band wowed critics and audiences with a stellar EP and even had a couple of songs feature in the Triple J Hottest 100. Bur rather than cough up cookie-cutter, mirror images of past glories, they’ve taken a different route by directing their attention towards minimalist chill-out music flavoured with atmospherics (read: blips and blops).
Snakadaktal have two lead singers who occasionally trade lines. Sean Heathcliff often sounds like Matt Corby while Phoebe Cockburn has a greater range, from sweet to childish, ethereal to downright charming. The lyrics are often dark, occasionally simplistic and often ambiguous, leaving the listener with room to interpret them as they wish. The band has acknowledged that their choice of words and sonics this time around is about their: “Emotional and physical connection to water”.
“Fall Underneath” is like a Django Django track with some bubbling synth and breathy vocals. First single, “Hung On Tight” is a strange epic that sees watery keys glisten alongside a space-age vibe and a feeling of weightlessness or drifting through time and space. It’s a bit like the band Foals met Depeche Mode for a tea party consisting solely of moon cakes.
At other points the feeling is quite ghostly and eerie as the music transports the listener to another plane. “The Sun I” actually has clean guitar tones and the grace and reverence of a Jeff Buckley song while it’s second sequel “The Sun III” is actually rather whiny.
The debut record by Snakadaktal is a bold move by a young band wanting to experiment and tinker with different layers and sounds so that occasionally the result is expansive while at other moments it’s quite sparse and plaintive. It is often calming and soothing like lying on your back in a clear, blue sea while under a sun-filled sky. But it is also let down by moments where the ingredients all feel too similar- echoes, reverb and repeated motifs and layers can make the album feel like a long, slow-burning haze that lacks originality.
On Sleep In The Water the youngsters have broadened their horizons to take in a fuller, trendier sound. At times the jangly guitars and swirling synths rise and build to a crescendo and are crisp with a youthful-like exuberance. But at other moments it’s all too slow and serene and is perhaps best thought of as a sign that their best work is yet to come.
Originally published on 1 September 2013 at the following website: http://thedwarf.com.au/album_review/16533/sleep-in-the-water
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