Safety Scissors

In a Manner of Sleeping

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In a Manner of Sleeping, Matthew Patterson Curry's first Safety Scissors album in eight years and his first for Ellen Allien's BPitch Control, just might be the smoothest blend of the elements in his music. Curry came up in the Bay Area electronic music scene of the late '90s and early 2000s (followed by stints in Berlin and Brooklyn), which was home to some of that era's most eccentrically catchy producers. That playfulness is still at the heart of his music, but he uses it in more sophisticated ways as the years pass. While his second album, Tainted Lunch, may have occasionally been jarring in its contrast of smooth house and techno and pop whimsy, this set feels like the culmination of that album's freewheeling spirit and Parts Water's flow. Sleeping starts with some of its most accessible, appealing tracks, which serve as reminders that cleverly crafted pop is just as challenging to do well as heady electronic compositions: "The Floor" is a sweet duet that shows off the growth in Curry's singing as well as intricately entwined synth and guitar melodies, while the excellent "You Will Find Me" showcases everything that's great about his pop songs. Curry lays out why the hunt is just as important as the capture when it comes to love over a sensual groove that lasts for seven minutes, but feels half as long. That would be impressive enough, but lyrics like "The owl is wise/But who is wiser/When the mouse can be an expert hider?" add the final wink to the song's flirtatious chase. In a Manner of Sleeping's smoothness emphasizes the soulful tinge that's always been present in Safety Scissors' pop, particularly on the intimate "18 Hours"; likewise, the album's easy stylishness enhances Curry's witty songwriting. On "Gemini," he meditates on duality, setting head-scratchers like "My arms are weird/My left is my right when I stand backwards" to one of the album's most kinetic grooves. Elsewhere, there's a remarkable transparency to his lyrics on "My Best Ideas" and the shimmery "Progress and Perseverance," which begin with the creative process and expand to more emotional territory. Sleeping's pop songs are so good that an album full of them would be more than welcome, but the album's instrumentals are nearly as strong, ranging from the hushed loveliness of "Moving Light" to the equally sleek and mischievous "Somnambulance" to the aptly and wittily named "Lemon Scented Moist Pillowette," which boasts breezy melodies and textures that play like a quick mid-album freshening up. Full of low-key delights, In a Manner of Sleeping balances wide appeal with Curry's unique viewpoint, and offers plenty of smiling, thinking, and dancing for the taking.

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