Sleeping Lion is an LA-based “pop-adjacent” duo who are sweeping the nation with sounds that feel like a beautiful marriage between The 1975, Passion Pit, and Bad Suns. I was initially introduced to the group through Twitter, where I was promised sounds similar to the slower, more somber tracks of The 1975 that I love so much. That is a sound that they definitely delivered, but with an added surprise of a colorful mix of different genres and styles added in as well. This album has everything you could want- cool melodies, voice sampling, choral harmonies, and even some influences from jazz and electronic music.
“Most Improved” is a record that is made for people who have gone through relationship troubles that keep them uncertain - causing sleepless nights and worrying about what will happen next until the wee hours of the morning. Or maybe you lay awake at night, thinking of what could have been with that one who got away. I know that both of those have been me at points in my life and these tracks took me back to those times, feeling that helplessness and disparity that kept me in such a state of limbo for so long. I think if a song or any kind of art can make you feel things like that, it’s something special.
Sleeping Lion captured that feeling for me as I listened through the EP, almost as if I was moving through the steps of grief and acceptance as I went through each song. No track is this more true for than “Winedrunk”, where I really felt those desperate feelings of “I know we’re done, but I just want one more night with you. Maybe we could fix it”. This was the track I was initially introduced to, but despite the into of sounding like one of my favorite bands, it actually is my least favorite on the album. Not to start off with what I didn’t like in this feature, but I do wish the track had more of a crescendo toward the finish. That being said, this track is a really cool representation of what can be done with minimal instrumentation and complex vocal harmonies. Imogen Heap would be jealous.
Now I want to talk about some of my favorites. I think that “Out of It” is one track that I could see easily topping the charts. With R&B-like verses that are common with artists like Justin Bieber and The Weeknd, relatable lyrics, and an ethereal-feeling backing track, this song has everything I could ask for. When I listen to this track I can just see a crowd of people singing along in my mind or even me and my friends singing along to the track on the radio. “Out of It” is catchy, fun to listen to, and yet meaningful once you really listen to the words. If you’re having people over or just hanging out somewhere casual anytime soon, I think putting on this song would be great for creating a chill vibe.
“Casper” is another track that I think deserves attention with this album. Acoustic guitar, piano, harp, and horns feature here and remind me a lot of The 1975’s “Sincerity is Scary” in the way that they compile all these different instruments and styles that they usually appear in to create something totally new. You can tell that the artists of Sleeping Lion are fans of Matty Healy and his musical stylings, as many of their tracks on this album feature a blend of styles like he is known to do. With this influence, what I especially enjoy is that while it's obvious that they take inspiration from The 1975, they don’t try to BE The 1975, and I think that’s important. They know what they like and who they are as artists, blending the powers of influence and musical innovation.'
Overall, I enjoyed this album’s unique sound and thoughtful lyrics a lot. This duo is going places and if they keep up writing songs like the ones on “Most Improved”, it’s only a matter of time until they’re on the Top 40 charts. Sleeping Lion’s sound, although similar to others in the genre, sets themselves apart by unique instrumentation and style that I think is one of their best assets. For all of you who are on the fence about how horns and acoustic guitar might sound together, this album deserves a listen. Give Sleeping Lion a follow and experience “Most Improved” for yourself, but don’t blame me if you get too in your feels because they put words to how you’ve been feeling.