Sleeping Beauty is an album without worries. To call it “Hakuna-Matata” music might be belittling, but it certainly has that kind of feel, given lyrics like “Go down by the sea / See a flower in the sand / A sea monkey’s paw / And your wish is my command,” that start the album on the first track, “I Love Your Smile.” The prominent string melody on the first track is featured throughout the album, sounds lulling languid because of the drawing song featured throughout, serving the same purpose a slide guitar or a saw might, but with more dexterity, capable of a more percussive pop melody at times, such as the beginning of “I Love Your Smile.”
The next two tracks tend to reinforce this easing lull, though the music plays against the lyrics well to create a sense of disillusionment to whole “chill” mentality that seems to pervade the album in “No More Problems.” Then track 4 seems to feed off of this disillusion, a harsh turn towards the rocky and rugged, though not rough. More specifically, the lyrics change greatly, shifting from an abstract sense of thoughts and meditations to direct, concrete, throw-down against traditional rock ensembles.
After track four, the feel of the tracks return to the sort of playful sensibilities that introduced the listeners into the album, especially the boppy-side-to-side feeling in the chorus of “Ghosts Are Real.” This mood is thoroughly given the boot with the start of “The Heaviest Week (So Far)” every sound slightly destructive, dark, damp, seedy, rapist in alley stuff. The shift is fantastic like a schizophrenic, completely unaware an unworried about what was leading up to it, never letting the darkness be obscured in light, not a sprightly spring in sight. The mood achieved is so comprehensive, almost hard to tell that it is the same band who played the earlier songs. This is The Special Pillow’s triumph on Sleeping Beauty, namely, to be able to break out of any self-imposed habit of mood or sentimental attachment to a certain song progression, to not have a worry for such trivial things.
After “The Heaviest Week (So Far)” listeners are given a reprieve with the instrumental “Fairport Airport,” and then thrown into the pop celebration, “My Poor Skull.” Final track “Blue Always” returns to a familiar sound, similar slide work from “No More Problems” echoing, but now, with female vocals, they seem somewhat separate from the sound of the rest of the album, creating a sort of epilogue to the album. “The skies aren’t always blue,” in Sleeping Beauty, and that quite an achievement when compared to many musicians today, so many feeling like they need to express just a certain sentiment to go with their own unique sound, but that’s not how The Special Pillow works.
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