Sleeper – The Modern Age
Two years after reuniting, Sleeper release The Modern Age – their first album in over 20 years suggests they may well have a bright future ahead of them
Sleeper’s journey from indie upstarts through Britpop heroes to vapid imposters was as swift as it was cynical. Worship turned to vitriol as swiftly as '97 became '98, so when the band reformed for a series of shows in 2017, it’s safe to say it wasn’t fuelled by public demand. That those shows became The Modern Age adroitly demonstrates the continued existence of the bloody-mindedness that once propelled them to fame.
Also remaining is Louise Wener’s knack for fusing spiky Breeders-esque pop with determinedly English observations. Lead single Look At You Now is as good as anything the band put out during their first act, and its barbed attack on old leaders is a welcome embrace of weightier themes. The Sun Also Rises is even better, Wener’s ringing Telecaster chords confidently strutting alongside Jon Stewart’s Joey Santiago-indebted leads and an unfairly catchy chorus.
The Modern Age is craftily frontloaded, rattling impatiently through the most immediate tracks and building up a steam of goodwill before slowing the tempo with the gentle experimentation of the title track. This allows Wener to explore themes of depression, divorce and digital loneliness on the more reflective back end, ably supported by Stephen Street’s pristine production. The closing trio of Blue Like You, More Than I Do and Big Black Sun are all quietly affecting additions to the Sleeper catalogue and, more than anything else, suggest a band with a bright future. How many of their peers can say that?
Listen to: The Sun Also Rises, The Modern Age, More Than I Do