by Caitlin Baldridge
Sleeper Agent’s new album About Last Night consists of poppy vocals by 21-year-old Alex Kandel, bright electric guitar reminiscent of Vampire Weekend, and military-style drum lines. The band of six began with guitarist Tony Smith and drummer Justin Wilson, and soon after Kandel whom they found covering Adele songs during an open mic night. This is the first release for the band since 2011, and it’s clear they’ve come a long way since Celabrasion by means of production, melody, and general cultivation of sound. Kandel has actually learned how to sing, the instrumentation is far improved, and the recording is smoother and fuller. The band has improved by a landslide, but they still have a ways to go before they stand out as an interesting rock-pop band.
About Last Night begins with a lovely, easy-going guitar and synth intro, with Kandel’s vocals coming in with a nice intonation but no discernible lyrics. We can understand the chorus which says “I’ve been feeling so lonesome that I could cry / But I could be brave laying in your bed tonight”. The pop emphasis that the band has contracted continues in “Waves” with synths that resemble Animal Collective. This track has the most promise for radio play with its catchy chorus, entertaining dance feel, and “waa-hoo” background harmonies. The album continues in this same monotonous way, and while it’s a huge leap since their previous release, the music isn’t of much real substance.
Sleeper Agent does incorporate some variation in the album with “Lorena” and “Shut”. These two tracks slow down considerably and we can see the talent in Kandel’s voice. It’s impressive that they’ve grown so much in sound and production from their last album, and I commend the group for producing some radio-worthy hits. Perhaps we’ll witness them develop even more with future releases.