Friday, 2 August 2019

Sleeper - Smart (1995)

Lady love your countryside....


Released on 14 March 1995

Running time 37.46

This was Sleeper's debut album. For many, it is considered not as good as the other two they released. For me, though, there is something raw and ebullient about Louise Wener and her mates' first offering. Her lyrics are up front, often amusingly bawdy, witty, tongue-in-cheek and sort of sexy in a grubby, punky way. Lots of great observational stuff. I agree, however, that the songs on the next two albums are more fulfilled pieces of songwriting, more catchy and cohesive. Some of those on here don't quite make it. Maybe that was part of the "indie" thing, though, that sort of home-produced punk ethic.


1. Inbetweener
2. Swallow
3. Delicious
4. Hunch
5. Amuse
6. Bedhead
7. Lady Love Your Countryside
8. Vegas
9. Poor Flying Man
10. Alice In Vain
11. Twisted
12. Pyrotechnician                                       

Inbetweener is a jangly, riffy, poppy opener with one of those hooks Sleeper would be so good at delivering over the next couple of years. Louise Wener's "mockney" is irritating, as it would also be prove to be over the same period of time. Just pronounce those "t's" Louise. Her phrasing sounds clumsy, more difficult to drop the "t's" than say them. Swallow has an edgy, post punk-ish scratchy guitar opening with Louise singing about a creature in her wardrobe seeing her naked. Delicious is a frantic, energetic punky number with Louise suggesting "we should go to bed until we make each other sore...". Ok if you insist....

Hunch is a slow, solemn number that doesn't quite come off, at least until it bursts into action half way through. Amuse is another low-key song that, unfortunately shows up the weaknesses in Wener's slightly deadpan voice. Bedhead is a new-wavey fast paced song with hints of early Joe Jackson about it. Lady Love Your Countryside is an odd song, lyrically, about various sexual activities. Again it is a very late seventies/early eighties-influenced number. Vegas is more in a mid-nineties "Brit Pop" jangly style. It ends with some crashing Oasis-ish riffs.

Poor Flying Man slows the tempo down a bit until its cacophonous ending. Alice In Vain is an interesting, beguiling song, with a bit of cod-reggae in the middle and another of those punky vibes. Twisted is an excellent, big, chunky, bassy one. OK, it's a bit raw, sonically, but that sort of adds to its indie appeal. Pyrotechnician is also mightily full-on in its attack. It utilises some Big Audio Dynamite-style sampling too. Good stuff. This album would have gone down well in 1978-1979. It is quite retrospective all the way through. I really quite like this album.