[sic] Magazine

The High Wire – The Sleep Tape

Reputedly borne of all things somnolent, and written during those moments when sleep just won’t come, The High Wire ‘s debut LP proper floats suitably into being. Picking up where the warm strings of the Ahead Of The Rain mini-album left off, The Sleep Tape starts in disappointment with “The Midnight Bell”. Lazily flirting with indie ambience, it fills itself out with hazy melodies and boy-girl harmonies thanks to mainstay Tim Crompton and newer member Alexia Hagen . It’s worrying close to Morcheeba , enlivened only with a strong and spiky string repeat. Luckily for The High Wire, it’s also unrepresentative.

Much better is the lush songwriting of “It’s No Secret” which, sparse on arrangements but strong on melody, brings to mind Sufjan Stevens ‘ pretty “Chicago” in its sun-kissed diaphanousness. Entirely more urgent is “Odds & Evens”. Bobbing along on fuzzy guitar and highly credible (and appropriately-influenced in name) Sleepy Jackson impersonations, its poppy key changes and slight bubble of country-rock also recall underrated Saddle Creek outfits The Elected and Rilo Kiley . It’s a trick carried from earlier in the album, as the sunny rhythms and harmonised jangle of “Hang From The Lights” prove. Later still, the pedal-steel and acoustic strumming of “Letting In The Light” reprise the sound once more, coming seemingly sprinkled with the same magic dust as newcomers Cults on their impeccable debut single “Go Outside”.

The Sleep Tape doesn’t stop there, jumping just an alt-country bandwagon now long since disappeared into the sunset. The reverbed guitar edge which loiters in “Hang From The Lights” lends the track the slightest of sedentary shoegaze notes – a blissful wash woven into its enviable melody. The title track itself is shoegaze-ier still, full of warm drone, vocal reverb and a decidedly Black Rebel Motorcycle Club bass-line (presumably thanks to sharing a producer in Rik Simpson ). It’s a sound worth repeating, and the slow, rocking plod of “ A Future Ending” runs with it. Tempering the track with boy-girl vocals, it comes happily to rest in Black Angels -like psych-rock and light drone.

Though, just as sleep on a warm evening can prove hit and miss, so does “New Lovers”. Rising and falling on fuzzy organ, it’s thankfully short and unnecessary. Also paling in comparison is “Honeycomb”. Wading in chilled out instrumental indulgence, it’s neither as Sigur Rós as intended, nor is it even fit for dinner party muzak. These moments are the boring safety net to The High Wire act.

These mistreads aside, The High Wire have made giant steps since the relative anonymity of Ahead Of The Rain. They’ve created an identity, albeit taken from others, and inhabiting a space between sleep and dream they more than make it their own.

The Sleep Tape is out now on Grandpa Stan Records .