Sleep In. - Tension & Release (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Sleep In.

Tension & Release (2017)

black numbers

Sleep In. have grown from the last time I heard them on Settling. The signature of old emo act, The Progress, is still there but there's something about how Tension & Release shapes itself that finds the band breaking away from those shackles and more into the new indie vein of bands clawing away. Evan Weiss did his thing and there'll undoubtedly be comparisons to Into It. Over It here, but Eric McNelis has more or less carved out an identity of his own with this New Jersey spinoff, who sound much more full, confident and brave.

Settling felt like a band trying to find its voice, still fumbling around (in a good way) in the shadows... but as evidenced on "Cleaner Days" there are no strings on them anymore. It has a nice mathy ring to it a la Tiny Moving Parts but feels aggressive like All Get Out. One thing I thoroughly enjoyed is how Sleep In. offer snapshots of themselves through an EP boasting seven tracks so you can dig into how versatile they are. It's not just a shot of two or three songs, which makes it all the better when you switch from a bouncy, breezy track like this to a slowed down jam like "Smoke Signals". Of course, what these do is set up "Acceptance" -- an acoustic-driven song which ends up being the highlight of the album for me. It signals that it's not just about breaking out of the old mold for McNelis and co. but it's also about that jangly strumming section, that tambourine and the Midwestern emo ring which gnaws at us like American Football on a rainy afternoon. It's about homage just as much as it as about that old rite of passage. If anything, Sleep In. aren't a pretender. In fact, as Tension & Release shows, they're a contender.