Sleep Station

After the War

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A concept album about World War ll complete with "Bridge over the River Kwai" whistling seems about as stimulating as a fifth grade history class. Sleep Station not only pulls it off, but has created a remarkable pop album in the process. Predominantly the brainchild of lead vocalist/songwriter David Debiak, the key to the project's success is the songwriting. Each immaculately crafted track adds a component to the story, but also stands on its own. Sounding somewhat like the Monkees' Micky Dolenz in the Head days, Debiak, along with brother Jason and especially multi-instrumentalist Brad Paxton (who adds trumpet, celesta, piano and glockenspiel as well as guitar) has composed sensitive and generally bouncy tunes about a weighty issue. It's only when you inspect the lyrics that the war thread becomes noticeable. Elements of Matthew Sweet, Fountains of Wayne, the Posies and even early Pink Floyd and ELO combine in the thoughtful and moving Beatlesesque pop of highlights such as "Come Back Again," "After the War," "A Soldier's Dream" and"Silver in the Sun." Alternately chiming and charging guitars mesh with Debiak's memorable melodies and tight yet expansive production that emphasizes the melancholic songs. A few tracks of bridging sound effects such as "The Final Story 1" interrupt the flow as they enhance the story, but also serve to connect the dots, imparting an epic quality to this extraordinary release. Although it peters out slightly towards the end, this is an enjoyable, reflective and poignant treatise on the effects of war, not typically a topic that lends itself to durable pop music. It heralds Debiak as a major talent and leaves the terrific After the War as an indication that his best work might be ahead of him.

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