Armor For Sleep’s debut album, Dream to Make Believe, was supposed to come out six months ago on Equal Vision Records. Instead, it’s coming out right in time for the summer heat. The delay is a shame because this album draws far more parallels to the cold of winter than the heat of summer. The sound of this band is toned down, with the vocals being the main focus of all the songs the entire time. MP3s of Armor For Sleep’s demos have been circulating the internet since the New Jersey quartet recorded the album last fall.
The problem with the MP3s that have been circulating is that they showcase the strongest songs on the album. After listening to these songs, such as “All Warm,” “Being Your Walls,” “The Wanderers Guild” and “Slip Like Space,” anticipation for the release of this built tremendously. When listening to the entire album, these are the only four tracks that stand out at all. The rest of the album is a slow drudge of songs that don’t really evoke any emotion. The tempo never really speeds up, keeping the album at a sort of lullaby pace for the entire forty minutes it lasts. The opening track is a forty-five second instrumental entitled “Armor for Sleep.”
The sound is somewhat airy, never really hitting hard enough to make the listener sit up and take notice. Every now and then there’s a catchy riff, but the drums never really pound very hard and the bass is barely noticeable. A lot of the time all the instruments blend together into a big mess of sound. All of this draws more attention to singer Ben Jorgensen’s vocals. While on the demos that circulated had seemingly strong vocals, a lot of the vocals on the finished version of the album are weak. Jorgensen’s vocals often sound whiny and nasal. While it makes sense that the vocals have a melancholy aspect to them, due to the lyrical content, if they’re going to be the focal point of the music, they shouldn’t sound so horrid. It’s almost like nails on a chalkboard.
Overall, the demos of this album raised hopes for a high quality album, but they’re quite misleading. Although this album is decent, it’s nowhere near as good as it could’ve been. While a lot of the lyrical content is thoughtful and interesting, there are songs like “My Town” and “Kind of Perfect” that absolutely sound like they were written by a twelve-year-old. “Kind of Perfect” showcases lyrics like “can I just be something, somewhere in your room, that you won’t notice…I’ll live where you put me, in your VCR, if I become a cassette.” Just not something that’s very appealing to listen to. The poor writing overshadows other clever metaphors and songs about feelings of alienation and dreams of a better life.
This album would be a “don’t buy unless you find it in your local store’s bargain bin” CD, except for the fact that Chris Strong did the album photography and layout. Since he’s an amazing artist, buy this album to support him. As for Armor For Sleep, this album has potential, but four good songs don’t make it worth a buy. Keep an eye out for them on tour, since they are a strong live band, then you can hear the songs and decide for yourself about these guys.