The video for Sleepy Sun’s “Open Eyes” is a psychotropic blend of horror and confusion. Its opening sequence of astrological imagery gives way to four participants (one male, three female) coming together for what seems to be one hell of a supernatural séance. They sit around a circular table with tarot-like cards spread out before them. By the end of the clip the four have had their essence extracted though their mouths, each spiraling to the center of the circle in a white tornado that revels pagan representations within (think goat head with horns). The song itself starts off with muffled vocals, which sound like they were sung underwater. As it progresses the words become clearer. By the time the guitars kick it up a notch in time for that spiritual departure, we get a distinct declaration of “open your eyes.” The video takes a couple of views in order to grasp all the elements.
This can also be said about the album, Fever; with every listen there will be something new to take away. On their sophomore album California’s Sleepy Sun feels a little hard rock, a little homegrown, and very much compacted into a multilayered pure rock band. While it’s easy to stamp the psychedelic label on here, there is definitely something beneath that surface.
Sleepy Sun is a full band with six members, which obviously creates a lot of sound. Yet Fever’s shining moments come when they strip down and break the psychedelic boundaries to offer up other flavors. “Rigamaroo” stands out with its simple acoustic guitars and percussion. The back-and-forth swing of vocalists Bret Constantino and Rachel Williams has its high point here as both give their most sensual performances on the album. The quiet pause of “Ooh Boy” is an even further departure with a singer/songwriter sound flexing for a straightforward folk song.
There are plenty of traditional substance-induced burners here as well. The mostly instrumental “Acid Love” gives three minutes of ambient noise and near incoherent wailing. The previously mentioned “Open Eyes” is either a nightmare or a sweetest dream. “Desert God” does a wonderful job of mixing both the soft and loud elements as its initial peaceful melody explodes with a nod to Southern rock and then on to Zeppelin territory.
Closing track “Sandstorm Woman” summarizes Fever best. Closing in on 10 minutes, it almost overstays its welcome except for the movement from a slow front-porch jam into a full-fevered guitar bender. Sleepy Sun has given us an album with so much movement that even when it seems it might meander into repetitive patterns, you must keep your ears glued for the unexpected. After that first layer is peeled, it commands a more in-depth look.