Since the release of Sleepy Sun's fourth full-length, 2014's Maui Tears, frontman Bret Constantino relocated to Texas from the band's San Francisco base, but still remained active with the group. They developed the album through online communication, and realized their ideas when Constantino returned to visit his bandmates. The album obviously took a lot of work in order to come to fruition, but the overall vibe is one of relaxation and refraining from stress. The album has an unhurried flow to it, and the songs generally seem to unfold at their own leisure. It isn't quite easy listening, however; Sleepy Sun delight in contrasts, spiking their languid grooves with a bit of a crunch to the guitars or hard-hitting drums on certain tracks (particularly the slightly dark "When the Morning Comes"). For the most part, Sleepy Sun don't stray too far from the sound of their earlier releases. They generally sound like the Verve's first two albums, but from a laid-back West Coast perspective, with hints of '60s psych-pop and '70s soft rock. Early standout "Seaquest" has a warm, midtempo drift augmented by creamy background harmonies. "Throes" is more uptempo and driving, but its lyrics seem to be about relaxing in a lush green field on a gorgeous sunny day and simply enjoying the splendor of nature. "The Keys" seems to be about Constantino's shift from California to Texas -- the lyrics mention both states, and the music contains a hint of country along with its sun-baked smooth psych-rock. Following the brief, wistful acoustic tune "The Plea," the group enters a Zen state with the content resolution of "Reconcile." There are a few moments on the album when Constantino lapses into somewhat obnoxious rock star posturing, but otherwise Private Tales is a satisfying listen. Considering how much longer it took for this album to surface than the group's other full-lengths, due to Constantino's relocation and lengthy commute to the band's sessions, the album hardly sounds forced at all, and Sleepy Sun deserve credit for that.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson