Before now, Deakin had really been two things to mind of each Pitchfork-reading broad-listening cool guy: the ‘Ringo’ of millennial psychedelic savants Animal Collective (For the sake of completion: Avey, frontman Paul; Panda B., other frontman John; and Geologist is none other than George reincarnate, that tripper), and another example of a Kickstarted artist having bumfuck nothing to show for it, several years and weepy forum posts later. But despite his endearingly low esteem in the eyes of AnCo fans, and despite the roundly-doubtful or outright apathetic response his thought-failed Kickstarter had, Deakin has put together an inventive, mind-bending and addictive album; but best of all, just so thankfully free from that fucking vocal echo-harmony thing from Painting With. This is from a guy whose greatest prior creation was a shoe made out of sleeping bag material.
These six songs present a dreamy walk through a washed-out psychedelic vista, coalescing and dissolving at turns. It’s enjoyable and interesting listening; but by failing to venture in any bold directions outside of the neo-psych oeuvre, Deakin’s solo productions will never escape comparisons to his career with Animal Collective, at least in my mind. “Footy” is like a rejected off-cut of 2007’s Strawberry Jam, while “Shadow Mine” is a straight throwback to 2003’s Here Comes The Indian. To add, several songs are unavoidably derivative of other AnCo members’ solo work; namely Avey Tare & Panda Bear. Album closer “Good House” is all about the effect-cooked loops and pondering, sweet vocals of the latter, while “Footy”, for example, has the needlessly hectic taste of the former’s latest album, Slasher Flicks. This would be a criticism if it weren’t generally as good/better than them. Album opener “Golden Chords” is the most original of the six tracks, and the best, with multi-layered guitars accompanying sweet vocals about sucking at expressing yourself and being bad at making albums.
Listening to this album, you might get a sense of Deakin as a pathological procrastinator, or manic-depressive, or else afflicted by some other variety of creative paralysis to have spent six years making an album that feels largely incomplete: an intro, a couple of direct, poppy singles interleaved with wishy-washy ambient tracks, and an outro, thirty minutes total. It’s a minor gripe really; with his debut solo album, Deakin brings freshness to an explicitly experimental style that’s somehow become tired. Largely incomplete and vaguely plagiaristic, Sleep Cycle is nonetheless a worthwhile listen.
Review by Nick Morlet