For a band that claims indie rock, Small Leaks Sink Ships do post-hardcore incredibly well.
In fact, labeling this band indie rock would not only be doing them a great disservice, it would fail to reveal the band’s robust songwriting and hard-hitting performance on Until the World Is Happy; Wake Up You Sleepyhead Sun.
The first four songs on the album are nearly flawless. “Dear Dictator” is a paradigm for the band’s greatest strength of flexibility that builds on jagged rhythms and spinning guitar leads that transitions easily into a melodic piano-led segment before violent and spastic, yet precisely timed slams. “Gutter of Disneyland” provides Johnny Whitney-level shrieks layered above interesting and abnormal timing that comes together for a heart-pounding climax before lingering off into a hypnotic fade of electric guitars. SLSS show a definite Thursday influence on the five-minute “The Best Time of the Worst Year,” that sees the band’s melodic post-hardcore tendencies hit its stride as singer Judd Hancock’s vocals reach towering heights and drummer London VanRooy beats the snare relentlessly through the extended chorus, slowing only for the Hancock’s relatively catchy verse.
Unfortunately, the record is a bit top-heavy. The second set of songs features two instrumentals, one fairly flat acoustic and bongo number, and a handful of others similar to the first half, but lacking the bite and oomph of the first four. “Sackcloth and Ashes” does show flashes of musical genius in the start-and-stop rhythm and catchy melody, but the sparkly clean guitar-lead has become an all-too-common mechanism of the emo-pop explosion.
Small Leaks Sink Ships show incredible promise for a young band in an overcrowded scene. Although Until the World Is Happy is not as completely solid as it could be, the band’s command of structure and presentation is impressive, especially in the first four songs. With handy innovations like Snocap and iTunes that let listeners buy songs individually, I would recommend checking out “Gutter of Disneyland” or “Dear Dictator,” and if you’re pleased and wanting more (a definite possibility), you may find yourself purchasing the whole album.