Sleeping in the Aviary
Expensive Vomit in a Cheap Hotel
(Science of Sound)
Record Review by Adam McKibbin
Sleeping in the Aviary are seemingly of no danger of running out of song fodder. They made their debut last year with the lively, ramshackle Oh, This Old Thing? Frontman Elliott Kozel released a solo album of bedroom recordings as She Is So Beautiful / She Is So Blonde, and drummer Michael Sienkowski put out a winsome collection of pop songs under the name Whatfor. SITA played some shows during this time, too, and amidst all of this, they managed to put together their attempt to evade the sophomore slump. Ladies and gentlemen, behold Expensive Vomit In A Cheap Hotel.
The album solidifies SITA’s position as a band to watch – and there’s no need to qualify that statement with “young band” or “Midwestern band”. Kozel is a versatile songwriter who has an unmistakable knack for pop melodies and an equally unmistakable aversion to pop overproduction. He likes to keep things loose and lo-fi, which suits the material well, and he has an adventurous and sometimes abrasive streak that keeps SITA’s path unpredictable.
They begin with an accordion-backed folk-rocker, “Write On,” that explodes into a full rock gallop on the second verse as a frustrated Kozel tries to write an ex-lover out of his heart. His similes don’t always connect on the opener – “Like an empty spot in a parking lot, I get jealous thoughts wherever you are” – but his lyrics throughout the album are mostly strong. The overriding time of day that his songs convey is about 4am; the forecast is still a little hazy and a little rambunctious, but there are also clouds of regret and moments of clarity moving through.
“I got friends: some of their lives seem over!” he shouts on “Things Look Good.” Seconds later, he amends that thought: “I got friends: some of their lives are over.” “I’m Old” breaks out some twang to accurately tell a tale of feeling old in your twenties (“Tried to meet some girls but I just drank all their wine / Went out to see a doctor and he just told me I was fine”).
Thoughts of mortality prove pesky. Sometimes relationships die but the people live. Sometimes people die but the relationship lives. Two of the best songs are ruminations on death and its effects: the shambling rocker “Everybody’s Different, Everybody Dies” and the lively sing-along “Girl in the Ground.” The highlights of their debut tended to be short blasts – the propulsion of the aptly titled “Pop Song” or the manic falsetto punk of “Only Son” (each under ninety seconds). Expensive Vomit is more cohesive and fully formed – but still plenty of loose fun. It’s also a key release in an impressive year for tiny Madison label Science of Sound, which also put out the fine second album from Pale Young Gentlemen.
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Pale Young Gentlemen - Interview
The Gaslight Anthem - Sink Or Swim
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Eric Gaffney - Uncharted Waters