Bedroom synth-pop records arenít exactly henís teeth these days. In the case of Sleep ∞ Over, what began as a lo-fi dream-pop trio effectively returned to the bedroom from the bandspace after two original members left last year. Austinís Stefanie Franciotti now records on her own, still using the Sleep ∞ Over moniker. Her obsession with Twin Peaks, tarot cards, and ghostly, distorted nods to Cocteau Twins lace the songwriting on her debut, Forever. The album is incredibly escapist, emphasizing a textural production technique thatís larger than life when paired with hazy sci-fi allusions. Aesthetically inventive though it may not be, itís distinguished enough to stand out from pack.
Whatís notable first is the intimacy of Franciottiís bedroom recording. You can hear it in her voice, which is far from remarkable, but works quite well among the various effect accouterments. This ardor is often mashed up with a distancing derived from recording techniques ó tape saturation, reverb and ambient washes color almost every song. Her lyrics are often unintelligible, too, making most of Foreverís 36 minutes feel like a semi-conscious blur of suburban psychedelia.
Song titles like "Flying Saucers Are Real" point to a childhood that was likely chock-full of X-Files re-runs. The track itself moves with a slow, Klonopin-doped crawl, through hazy synth treatments and distorted drum machine loops. And yet it retains enough pop-sensibility to reward the investment, and like the albumís standout ďCasual Diamond,Ē itís incredibly pretty under all of that murkiness. However, the instrumental interlude passages wouldnít work too well if they popped up via Shuffle, but sound just fine in context ó "Crying Game"ís tense synth drones and B-movie sound effects reinforce Foreverís underlying otherworldly conceit.
The immediate embrace of anything analogue-warped by certain corners of the Internet shouldnít detract from Forever, as itís quite an engaging listen when the right (nocturnal) mood strikes. My biggest complaint is that it can feel incredibly drowsy and quite a bit longer that it actually is (which, to some, is perhaps an achievement). The meticulous crafting and personal touches in these songs cannot be denied, though. If anything, they hint that Franciotti might be just as compelling on her own, if not more so.