I Hear Sirens – Between Conciousness and Sleep

Between Consciousness And Sleep cover art

Artist I Hear Sirens
Album Between Conciousness and Sleep
Genre Post-Rock
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Label Independent
Release 7 May 2013
Rating: Good

Salt Lake City’s I Hear Sirens have released a compelling album with “Between Consciousness and Sleep.”  While not reinventing the wheel, they have continued the tradition of post-rock as extension of so-called “Emo” music. Let me clarify before you either vomit or applaud. When I say “Emo” I’m talking about the sub-genre term for the music that evolved out of hardcore and started refining itself more than 20 years ago. If we look at the lineage it would go from the first wave (example Rites of Spring) to the slightly more subdued and experimental growth spurts of second wave (examples Jawbreaker and Sunny Day Real Estate) into the splitting divergent personalities of the third waves tumultuous hydra, where it actually reached an arguable mainstream popularity is some forms( examples Weezer, Jimmy Eat World) while others stayed fairly underground but still held much of the rock bite of their predecessors (examples Thursday, Get up Kids, The Promise Ring, as well as many Jade Tree and Deep Elm releases in the mid 90’s thru the early 21st century) and still more set out to develop into an incarnation of the post-rock we know and love today, which isn’t to say it is the only or direct ancestor to post-* music. (Example Mineral, Jejune, Appleseed Cast, and a whole new crop of Deep Elm released bands)

It is in that third arm of the third wave where we find the seed of the sound that “Between Consciousness and Sleep” presents to us. Though undoubtedly they have other influences I Hear Sirens very nicely shows the power of emotional music through their chord changes, arrangements, and progressions.  Soul harrowing keys give way to confidence inspiring power chords. Messages are being sent. Hearts are being broken and healed and filled.

Great musicianship is needed to accomplish this tapping into our feelings. Luckily I Hear Sirens has just that.  Having played together since 2005 with just the change of a single member, and refining their craft with two prior releases, they are tight and augment each other very well.  Instead of throwing a million themes and noodles at us, “Between Consciousness and Sleep” keeps its song length down to an average of five and a half minutes, delivering concise statements and figures that are well embellished, but not overdrawn. As a result every song is rewarding, even though they do blend a bit. It’s also a nice treat, and almost an evolutionary vestige at this point, to have some vocals. They aren’t overpowering, and fit very well.

Moods are set, and heartstrings plucked, with the help of very solid production. It would have been relatively easy to overproduce this music, and that would have destroyed utterly its humility and honesty. The band wisely kept things slightly lo-fi, while still retaining a great clear sound. Vocals, when they appear, are low enough in the mix to add to the sound while also still drawing the listener in to decipher the lyrical content. They have just enough reverb and echo to buoy the falsetto. Drums thump and snap satisfyingly, while cymbals are dark and rich. They are also very well mixed and enhance the space of the atmosphere. Keys, mostly of the traditional variety, are done with taste and class, enhancing the mood considerably. The bass is both wide and defined, helping build the rhythm without sacrificing its own voice. Guitar tone and dynamics are quite well done, with a slightly distorted “clean” sound at times that really empowers the lines.  Spatially everything is mixed down well, and there are no annoyances or hindrances to the listener.

“Between Consciousness and Sleep” is a solid album done by an earnest band. This is meat and potatoes stuff, with a few seasonings. The innovation to the genre may be lacking, but it’s an enjoyable record none the less. I can see how listeners, and some of our readers, would just fall in love with I Hear Sirens.