Like the dying embers of a war-torn afternoon, Sleep Station have shone through the smoke of the pillaged structures of rock music with a concept album that for the most part, is surprisingly engaging. The concept itself, human drama during wartime, is not one that has gone untouched, but Sleep Station are keen on continuing their love for concepts (two of their previous releases have been based on some strange entangling of souls in atypical situations), and what is striking about After the War is not that the music is only marginally in-depth, only grazing the surface of more complex guitar driven rock music, but how they manage to create lucid visions from such seemingly menial construction.
From the Dave Grohl Top 40 work of “Silver in the Sun,” to the many American Music Club sounding tracks (“Burden to You,” “After the War” to name a few); there is no doubt that many will find comfort in the music. Most of the album comes away very approachable, and listeners who are most comfortable with music that leaves the heavy thinking at home will find qualities within After the War to their liking. They never once stray into oblique territory, unless of course you count their inclusions of the somewhat unnecessary atmospheric sounds of war time (the call to war in “The Drums of War,” or the nighttime whispering/radio reflections of “The Final Prayer Pt.1 & Pt.2”) that do little but add to the ambience and concept of the record. These moments can seem a little odd; fillers that would otherwise drag an album down – but since the album strives to maintain its aura of the associated period, it does lend a hand to heighten the atmosphere.
Yet Sleep Station’s strength lies in how they evoke the deepest emotional response through the majority of the work. From the personal sadness of the more acoustic driven songs, to those equally potent ones with greater accompaniment, there is a certain appealing quality to it all. Concept albums tend to be the product of some sort of artistic lunacy gone awry; collapsing in a heap of ego-stroking pretension appealing to very few outside its creators. And while some of the rather offish traits found in this sort of egomaniacal behavior can be found here, it is saved by the good nature of the music. Perhaps the actual concept isn’t the vital aspect of After the War. While the chosen backdrop does evoke a certain kind of emotional reasoning in our minds, it is how they convey such humanity within their simple affair that creates a story worth hearing.
(Bardic / Eyeball Records)