Polite Sleeper: 'Lake Effect'

Despite the fact that Polite Sleeper hail from Brooklyn, they have little in common with that scene's preoccupation with electro-pop experimentation, typified by the likes of MGMT and TV On The Radio.

Rather, their brand of literate, lo-fi folk-pop bears a greater resemblance to the likes of Spoon, Lambchop and Bright Eyes. 'Lake Effect' is the follow-up to the band’s 2008 debut long player, 'Seens'. In the intervening year the banjo and pedal steel flourishes have been jettisoned in favour of a more focused interplay between acoustic guitar and mellotron organ, backed by strangely moving three-part vocal harmonies.

The opener, 'These Are Not Fall Colours', is a perfect introduction to the nine powerful and delicate geek-folk songs that comprise the album. Commencing with a brittle, stabbing acoustic guitar figure, the song soon dovetails into a lament of heart break with the addition of a swirling organ melody, which crucially never becomes self-pitying or cloying in the same way that Ben Folds manages to write ballads whilst eschewing the saccharine.

'Driving Ohio', is a bustling song, given momentum by brushed drums and a vocal that succeeds in cramming too many words into each line and is all the more enthralling for the awkward scanning. 'From Waiting List To Walk In' is a pretty piano ballad which climaxes with a stirring vocal harmony crescendo, whilst 'Crushed' is a piece of subdued indie reminiscent of fellow purveyors of articulate pop, Clem Snide.

At times the imagistic lyrics become a little clumsy, but there isn’t a truly weak song here. Unfortunately the band’s resolutely lo-fi indie outlook will prevent them from breaking out of their small niche, but this record will repay anyone willing to explore the farther reaches of the genre.

Released on 7th September 2009 by Expect Candy.

Written by Sam Monk.