REVIEW: SLEEPER AGENT – CELABRASION (2011)
There’s no escape from Sleeper Agent’s debut album, Celabrasion. It takes maybe five seconds of the opening track and first single, “Get it Daddy” before the Bowling Green, Kentucky sextet has your ear, and they don’t let go until the 35-minute album is finished.
Sure, it’s fast and furious, but there’s plenty to grab onto in that period, however quickly it passes. Celabrasion is packed with pop-rock hooks that aren’t only easy to sing along with on the first listen – they’ll stay in your head for a while too.
“Get it Daddy” makes it clear that the group is out to have fun. The track is a raucous romp that sounds like the band is throwing a massive party where there isn’t a single attendee not singing along and stamping their feet. That mood continues right into the next track, “Force a Smile,” without any chance to breathe in between. That trend continues until the final note.
Lead vocalists Alex Kandel and Tony Smith deliver phenomenal and impressively varied performances, showing their equal abilities to deliver a rock snarl, as in “Shuga Cane,” or pair up for a lovely duet, like in “That’s My Baby.” In “Proper Taste,” they spend the chorus seamlessly alternating words between them.
A personal favorite track for this reviewer is “Be My Monster,” which delivers the clever bridge, “You can be my monster, I’ll be your bride, and if you stay haunted, I’ll be satisfied.” Those lines lead into an instrumental section with a rhythmic tropical feel that at first stands out against the heavier main part of the song, but blends in nicely as the punk-rock elements come back in.
It’s fun to see what rock sub-genres Sleeper agent pulls from on the album. For the most part, it’s straight up catchy pop-rock. There are moments of punk (“Force a Smile”), a little bit of glam (“Get Burned”) and a bit of the band’s Kentucky roots with a hint of country pacing (“All Wave and No Goodbye”). At times they seem to channel the energy and attitude of the White Stripes, and at others, some noise that seems to be inspired by Summerteeth-era Wilco makes a background appearance.
There’s bound to be more to come from Sleeper Agent. They stirred up this year’s SXSWfestival and are on the lineup for Weezer-led rock cruise in January. “Get it Daddy” is currently the iTunes free Single of the Week, and the rest of the album is available for purchase. Those who want a physical copy will have to wait for the album to hit stores September 27.
And when that happens, just try to get away. I dare you.