Feelings of doubt, disillusionment, and anxiety permeate throughout Sleep Cycle, the debut release from Deakin (aka Josh Dibb, founding member of Animal Collective). But within each of the songs there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, with inspiration overcoming indecision. They’re songs of personal struggle and perseverance, combining organic instrumentation and field recordings with psyched-out guitars, electronics, and samples.
For those getting tired of the increasingly formulaic sounds of later-aged Animal Collective (see: Painting With), Sleep Cycle plays like a return to the best aspects of the band Dibb helped create. The album combines a variety of styles, from the hushed acoustic beauty of opener “Golden Chords” to the maximal psych-rock shredding of “Footy” or the loop based breathing-mantra of “Good House.” Lead single “Just Am” highlights Deakin’s guitar playing paired with a fantastically catchy hook. Sleep Cycle boasts some of the best “Animal Collective” styled songs to come out since the band was in its New York glory days.
If you’ve been following the music of Deakin over the years, it’s been a bit of a perplexing half decade since he first announced plans for a debut solo album. In 2009 Dibb launched a kickstarter campaign to fund the production and distribution of a solo album. A number of promising solo shows were followed by sporadic, non-specific hints that the album might be finished someday. Many (myself included) thought the album may never come. Some in the public accused Dibb of larceny, taking the money he raised and never delivering a product. Dibb blamed the delay on “fatal perfectionism,” claiming to be unsatisfied with the quality of the art he was making. Fast forward to April 2016 and Dibb has finally made good on his promise with the release of Sleep Cycle.
In our hyperactive internet culture, artists are expected to produce content ad nauseum, to endlessly release products for the hype-cycle to chew up, spit out, and forget about tomorrow. It’s refreshing to see an artist take the necessary time to produce the best work they can, ignoring outside pressures and expectations. Sleep Cycle brings the listener into the world of Deakin’s artistic catharsis, filled with self-doubt and deep introspection. It’s a carefully crafted album, a very good album at that, and it came out at the exact right time.