Because John Graves, the mind behind Mad Bad Racket’s debut EP So the Animals Can Sleep, has accumulated many years of experience producing music and films, his new solo project emanates the familiarity of what makes good music while simultaneously experimenting with novel techniques.
The first track on the EP combines rampant use of resounding guitars and lightning paced percussion, at several points dropping all instrumentation except for the drums to create an atonal, energetic display of musical skill. Graves leads the instruments with his relatively calm voice, and the ease exuded from his relaxed lyrics add to the manner in which the song comes together as a whole.
Unconventional chords and seemingly out of place melodies are featured in “Making New Holes” the next song that leads the EP towards a more experimental style. Acoustic instrumentation begins the tune and is later accompanied by a host of synthesized sounds. Whereas the uncommon themes in this song seem alien at first, by the end of the song they feel much more acceptable and enjoyable.
“DreamLoop” employs a lengthy intro before launching into a plodding groove filled with guitar riffs, steady waltz-like percussion and layered vocals. This track, unlike previous tracks, has a gloomy, somber tone that never fully dissipates. “Lawn Monsters” feels like a continuation of the slightly dismal emotion, but the emotion eventually lifts towards the end of the song as the beat solidifies and the chords’ energy intensifies.
The EP ends with a reflective, yet triumphant piece that makes use of both droning and plucked strings, echoing vocals and other smooth instruments. The title “Deep Sea City” fits well with this tune, as the listener feels the underwater motif that exudes from the style of the song. Although there are few moments of excitement and outright joy, So the Animals Can Sleep contains thoughtful, thought provoking pieces that successfully strike the delicate balance between experimental and accessible.
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