After The War

Sleep Station

Bardic Records, 2004

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


The concept album is, despite rumors to the contrary, not at all dead. New Jersey's Sleep Station, a cinematic rock outfit that reminds yours truly of what you'd get if you put Radiohead and Pink Floyd on additional serotonin, have checked in on the deep content front with their latest effort, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 After The War.

Loosely based on one soldier's experiences in World War II, After The War is an ambitious effort to encapsulate the war experience as emotion. Against all odds, it mostly works, making After The War a satisfying musical experience. The musicianship of the band is nonpariel; Dave Debiak, Daniel Goodwin, Ryan Ball, and Brad Paxton are talented musicians and artists in their own right. They're also apparently obsessive about detail; a good portion of After The War was recorded on 1940s' vintage amps, microphones, and wire recorders, and this laces the recording with an eerily authentic ambience.

So why am I not exploding with enthusiasm? Well, what keeps After The War in the 'good' rather than 'great' classification is that for all the technical perfection, the emotion falls flat on some level. I felt that this unnamed soldier is lost, far from home, missing his loves, but I never really felt pulled in. After The War is a very satisfying CD on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level it failed to really involve me, except in a few key moments. There is, I suppose, such a thing as too skilled.

Tracks worthy of note include the opening "After The War," the heavy percussion and synth of "Drums Of War," and the perfect, heartbreaking melody of "Waiting" -- the only track that really pulled me in emotionally and made me feel something. When it comes down to it, though, Sleep Station aims close to the target, but doesn't quite meet its lofty goal. All Icarus references aside, that doesn't make this CD a failure, but perhaps a good example of being wistful at what might have been.

Rating: B

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© 2004 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Bardic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.