Upset the Rhythm brings another stellar Aussie duo to the forefront of 2020 with the release of Sleeper & Snake’s sophomore LP Fresco Shed. Comprised of Amy Hill (Terry, Primo!) and Al Montfort (Terry, Dick Diver, UV Race) the band gives post-punk a rinse in disjointed folk brambles and flanneled jazz touches. What the band does best is capture an unhurried view, almost ambling at times, but without coddling the record in niceties. While they jangle through the folk breeze of “Rokeby” the saw of fiddle and a muffled bleat of sax keep things from ever becoming comfortable. In similar fashion, the band never let their hooks swim too close to the surface. Every time they feel like they might get brisk and wistful, a curdled tone sets us straight. The record is most certainly not meant to fade into the background. Hill and Montfort create warped pop for those already peeking over the edge and it’s a lovely din that demands your attention.
Keys stumble with harpsichord pomp, horns hide in cotton enclaves, and jangles float by in a static haze. There’s something almost inherently cable-access about the album, as if we’re all party to an uninterrupted transmission from an alternate pop universe, framed in yellowed linoleum and second hand shag. The fluorescent flicker inside the Fresco Shed takes a bit of adjustment but soon it hits like a heartbeat pulse. The pair pick out a homespun, earnest batch of songs that refused to be corralled into any contemptible genre. Even when they start to get close to a breezy jangle on “Lock Up The Loose” an amble of harmonica leads us all astray. Any look over their collective resumes assures you that they have the chops to make things easy, but Sleeper & Snake aren’t interested in easy. Somewhere within the labyrinth of the Fresco Shed we’re all lost in the melted sun sway of the band’s subtle charms. Once your internal temperature is reset to their fevered heat ripple, it all starts to make sense.
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