Review: Sleeping At Last – Yearbook – August EP (2011)

For those out of the loop, Sleeping at Last is an indie project that could be described as mellow alternative in genre, although you really have to listen to see what I mean. Ryan O’Neal, the primary force behind the project, is nearing the end of year-long project where Sleeping at Last puts out a three song EP at the start of every month, appropriately dubbed Yearbook.

Reviewing such a project can be challenging, as the artist is committing himself to a rather tight schedule.  Fortunately, Ryan O’Neal by now has the process down, and given the schedule he still manages to turn out rather impressive work.

The August EP comes across slightly more melancholy than one would expect, given the month featured.  Lyrically, O’Neal  shines as strongly as ever though.  The three songs find O’Neal getting back to some of Sleeping at Last’s roots and retracing some familiar territory musically from the Yearbook series.  Yet, everything still comes across as fresh.

“Page 28” starts things off with a hypothetical journey through one man’s processing his own problems, before arriving at the conclusion that he needs to rely on something beyond himself to find peace.  The music portrays a vague sense of conflict which is transcended by the beauty of the process of personal growth O’Neal’s character experiences.  The mood of the song is best portrayed perhaps in the line “I guess there’s such a thing as trusting there’s elegance in dissonance.”

“No Argument” slows things down even further, carrying on the theme of a need to rely on something more.  While “Page 28” arrives at this conclusion with some reluctance, “No Argument” is a song about surrender in its purest form.  “There’s no second thought, there’s no turning back, there’s no calling off this avalanche,” O’Neal croons somewhat wistfully.  Later, one can almost hear the gratefulness of O’Neal, that this surrender he speaks of is to love, and that yielding to this is the only things capable of solving “such permanent truths”, the problems one might encounter in life.

“Households,” the final track, is an instrumental.  Those following along might remember other ventures into instrumental tracks, such as the January EP’s “The Ash that’s in Our Clothes” and the March EP’s “Pacific.”  Here, you can hear some influence from softer Coldplay tracks and the track also recalls Sleeping at Last’s sophomore record “Keep No Score.”

While this EP lacks in experimentation it makes up for in sincerity.  Considering it’s the 11th installment of a year-long project, this is something to be proud of.

Sleeping at Last
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Rating: 7.3/10

Thoughts?