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Unlike many of the Triangle peers with which Sleepsound shares bills, the Chapel Hill quartet writes songs that beg for ostentatious, radio-ready production. Check the six tracks on Leaves Change, the band’s debut EP: Pianos sometimes charge above arpeggiated guitars; gentle guitars sometimes lead keyboards that fill and twinkle; textural drum machines occasionally offset rhythmic diligence; the frontman constantly testifies on behalf of his emotions without equivocation. Sleepsound’s pleas recall the grandeur of a low-budget Snow Patrol or The Fray and the empathy invitation of a Nada Surf chorus. Leaves Change may only be the result of two sessions in Durham and Chapel Hill last spring, but its songs and their sounds suggest a band with bigger intentions.
Frontman Geoffrey Register’s awareness of his own melodrama gives Sleepsound’s brand of chamber-to-arena pop surprising grace: For all those emotions scrawled across his sleeves, Register’s a pragmatic lyricist, completely open about both his happiness in “The Balance” and his sorrow in “Only the Sun.” On “Let It Go,” though, Register identifies his anxieties and convinces himself to loosen the reins, to persevere and celebrate even “when I fall.”
Both metaphorically and sonically, Register’s voice begs for someone to sing with him, to help him make his romantic case during the exit refrain of “The Balance” and to plea harder during “Only the Sun,” where his paramour dissipates into a dream. Sure, these are his love songs, and they’re personal, sincere and disclosing. But cast only in his pleasant if wispy tenor, the construction doesn’t have the reach to make his feelings ecumenical or turn his hooks into addiction. In fact, Leaves Changea fine start and a capable launching paddemands more at most turns, including variety and production. But it’s impossible to escape the feeling that, over time, those attributes could lead to kind turnarounds for Sleepsound, and they’d be just fine with that.
Sleepsound plays Blend with Transistor Sun and Haymaker Riot Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5.