[sic] Magazine

The Sleepover Disaster – Hover

Set your Phasers to stun. Maximum Warp. This is Shoegazing THE NEXT GENERATION. And as with Picard and his Lycra-clad cronies, you may not be certain you wanted this stuff back in your life but The Sleepover Disaster will force you to rethink. This is no mere retread of dated nostalgia. Hover is a fresh, relevant re-imagination of a genre that was superbly entertaining to begin with.

What are the implications of such a revival? Geography plays its part. In the UK today the scene-obsessed, London-based, music press pillories Shoegazing. Let us not forget they created the scene in the first place. These hacks would re-write history if they could. They’d have us believe Baggy turned into Britpop overnight and there was never a five-year wait for The Second Coming (which turned out to be Oasis instead of the Roses anyway) Why the embarrassment though? Those early days of Ride, Catherine Wheel, Slowdive, etc were an electrifying experience.

The genre seems far more affectionately remembered by USA writers. This alone might explain why there has been such scant coverage of TSD in Europe whilst the band has garnered lavish praise in many of the best US-based publications. Hover has many elements of the more pop-oriented ‘gazer bands of the day such as Swervedriver, Pale Saints and most noticeably the three luminaries mentioned above. Light, tonal melodies are set against a soaring background of effect-laden guitar work. It’s true that the anal amongst us could have a fun night in playing ‘References’ – ‘Ooh, that part is SO Ferment’ etc (e.g. ‘Tremble’ – Jesus, I’ve just hoisted myself here, haven’t I.) But crucially TSD add subtle enhancements to the genre, pushing the envelope that little bit further and forging their own identity in the process.

Take it from somebody who stood and watched those fledgling first-timers, these were exciting, incendiary concerts. Don’t be duped by the historians. It was never just about the effects. It was the mix – the (un) focus. Vocals sat back allowing themselves to be enveloped in guitars and distortion. Lyrics were secondary – mere vehicles for melody. And it was a world away from the usual singer-songwriter; gritty northern life fare. Instead listening became an almost subconscious, oceanic process. You fell into it and allowed yourself to be carried away. You could have drowned in it and not cared. The Sleepover Disaster are doing something subtly different to the originals though. Hover is a far more cohesive body of songwriting. The vocals and the message are never buried in the mix. They’re right there, up front and why not? Luke Giffen has a terrific voice.

Shogazing’s Achilles heel was always its lack of sustainability. On reflection the ‘gazer bands often burned brightly for a handful of early EP’s only. Very rarely did it ever work over an album format after which they’d either implode or alter direction. The exact same problem has dogged post-rock these last few years. It works, yes, but only in short doses. Prolonged exposure and we’ll pass, thank you very much. Yet here again TSD turn the tables because Hover is a pleasure from start to finish. No filler. No ennui. Pure entertainment.

So we could sit here and discuss influences and originality until the cows come home. The bottom line is this – when you play this delightful album, you’ll enjoy it. And I think you will do both of those things.

A lot.