On his first solo album after leaving his band Without Gravity, Icelandic singer/songwriter Kalli makes a beeline straight for the corner of the indie rock soundscape marked "dreamy." Without going for the overwhelming reliance on atmospherics that marks countrymen like Mum and Sigur Rós, Kalli certainly makes good use of his reverb pedals and echo chamber, and his delicate quaver of a voice sometimes seems in danger of getting overwhelmed by some of the bigger swells of keyboards and guitars. The difference is that instead of making an entire album's worth of beatless, atmospheric mood pieces like the album-closing title track or the haunted "Bridges Burn," Kalli cleverly changes things up by including a weepy countrified ballad like "River of Darkness" and the carnivalesque neo-psychedelia of "It's Over." With its keening vocal hooks and one-chord guitar drone, "Jupiter" might even be mistaken by some for the next Coldplay single, and the rueful "Morning Rain" has a certain Jackson Browne vibe that could appeal to the more historically minded listener. Well-produced, cleverly written, and thoroughly enjoyable, While the City Sleeps is an enjoyable solo debut.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason