The comparisons to Arcade Fire which were continuously levelled at The Kissaway Trails’ eponymous debut always seemed slightly unfair, and as a defender of said album, it’s hard not to feel slightly let down by Sleep Mountain, the young Danish mob’s second LP. Where one would have hoped for stretching and flexing of musical muscles, it seems as though they have decided to rest back on those exquisite laurels and wallow in said comparisons.
Where The Kissaway Trail at times lent an edge and nerviness to the trademark chamber pop sound, Sleep Mountain piles on more choir choruses, chiming bells and accordions than you can shake a stick at. That should be qualified with a note that it’s not to bad effect, it’s just depressingly unoriginal. It’s all overwhelmingly pretty, but, like a bad Chinese takeaway, you’re left feeling a bit empty inside.
Certainly, ‘SDP’ and ‘Don’t Wake Up’ bounce along nicely, trying to reach those peaks of soaring beauty they’ve previously scaled and never quite getting there, but the real highlights are ‘Beat Your Heartbeat’ and ‘New Lipstick’ – the latter, in particular, cheerily showcasing the swirling, punchy folk sound they seem to have landed on. A cover of Neil Young’s ‘Philadelphia’ is the most interesting track thrown up, but the soulless vocals and polished, aching violin sound almost contrived perched amongst the big, baroque sound they’re obviously cultivating.
While undoubtedly quaking in the shadow of Arcade Fire, Sleep Mountain is no less enjoyable than any of the Canadian giants’ efforts. And although originality has certainly been traded in, we’re left with a group who sound like they’ve found their feet and confidence in a big hearted sound that rings far truer than the new breed of indie-folk types who’ve recently broken through. Essential? No. Satisfying? Definitely.