The Modern Classic: Lovers by The Sleepy Jackson

Lovers – Original Release Date: June 30th 2003

In the early 2000s, before he started dressing up like the drug-affected love child of Ziggy Stardust and Hagar The Horrible as one half of Empire Of The Sun, Luke Steele fronted The Sleepy Jackson. Named for their fatigued former drummer, the Perth based band have released two albums and five EPs to date. It was the first of these LPs which made them something of a household name.

Lovers opens with what is perhaps the band’s most popular track, ‘Good Dancers’. Instantly, we’re confronted with a swirl of inexorable psychedelia. The lyrics are few and far between, but the music behind them is symphonic in its thickness and epic character. ‘Good Dancers’ is a clean segue into the band’s sound on the rest of the album. The Sleepy Jackson offer up a unique brand of grubby, psychedelic rock. For all the looped back guitars, falsetto-stained vocals and confusing samples, there are acoustic guitar comps and well grounded, folksy melodies.

The music is somehow both up-in-the-air and down-to-earth in its mix of folk and experimental stylings. It’s a VW Kombi with a lurid paint job that still has an endearingly jittery exhaust pipe and a Maccas bag in the back. But this is where The Sleepy Jackson find their footing; their genre mash-ups become an unlikely source of accessibility. The album’s tracks proved such a hit with Aussie listeners that Luke Steele’s group went on to claim Best Album and Best New Artist at the ARIA awards. Any time someone tries to make you believe that Tame Impala aren’t in good company in the Australian experimental-pop music scene, show them this album and then block them on Facebook.

True to form, the downright weirdness of classic psychedelia is maintained on ‘Fill Me with Apples’ and ‘Morning Bird’. The former of these tracks begins with the line “Fill me with apples, I am lovesick. Like columns of smoke, your love is as strong as death” under haunting piano work. The latter is sung by what sounds like a female child (that’s not an insult, listen to it, that’s what it is). But we’re ready to let The Sleepy Jackson get away with it when they balance out this ditzy banter with well-mixed, beautifully orchestrated songwriting.

Next week on The Modern Classic, we’ll be looking at an artist who would be celebrating his 47th birthday early next month.

To Purchase Lovers by The Sleepy Jackson, click here.

Jasper Bruce

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