5 out of 5
Label: Big Cat
Produced by: Stony Sleep?
What? What what?
I love Serafin quite a bit, but the nonsense lyrics and forced ecological / vegetarian themes admittedly make me cringe a tad, and make it one of those recommendations you want to add a caveat to. Regardless, No Push Collide had the shit listened out of it by yours truly, and if To the Teeth had had better production quality, the same would be true there. Two albums just wasn’t enough.
Backtracking to Ben Fox’s previous band, Stony Sleep, I was expecting something more generic, and more raw. Typical early band stiff, nibbing more consciously from your influences, or trying harder not to sound like them.
Instead: What? Stony Sleep is fantastic, full stop, no caveat required, and – What what? – these dudes were all in their teens when this happened? What the Hell was I doing with my life?
For sure, the Nirvana force still clearly ran strong with the band, but prior to (presumably) Dave Sardy’s molding, there wasn’t the penchant to gear structures toward shouty choruses, and Mr. Fox still loved his nonsense… but this time he just went for it, politics and principles be damned, resulting in fascinating smashes of colorful lyrics that are delivered at full throttle passion and thus communicate their intent through force alone.
Trying to think of an apt comparison escapes me. Different golden era grunge bands come to mind, but none capture the essence of what Stony Sleep had here, wherein every aspect – production, musicianship, composition – feels perfect, each and every song. Think of an album for you that has no dull tracks; no songs you had to learn to like but rather instantly dug; no singles that lose their lustre after you’ve given them ample spins: That’s music for Chameleons.
I could call out songs but it’s a fool’s errand. They’re all good. If you haven’t heard Serafin or Stony Sleep before, Ben Fox’s vocals are a bit UK-nasally, but it’s not a slacker croon, rather the warble of a man wringing out fantastic lines like ‘Children are ugly, kittens are cuddly,’ buried ‘neath unbelievably catchy riffage, too busy jostling between great song ideas to polish them vocals into something radio-friendly.
Also calling out this review cause, like, this guy gets it: