Oct. 17 was a significant day for the Surrey-based indie band Sleepy Gonzales. It marked the legalization of marijuana nationwide, the birthday of the two brothers in the band and the release date of their newest project, The Joy of Painting.
Initial influences are still present but that have noticeably toned down their pop and rock proclivities and created something far more ethereal and atmospheric than their old music.
It’s a stylistic change that served the band quite well. While only having a 12 minute run time, the EP is beautiful and emotionally charged.
Songs like Floating and Sinking share drawn out guitar chords and warms synths creating an ambient soundscape that serves as the backing for the shared vocal croonings of vocalists Allyson Elizabeth and Cristian Dimas.
The music is not virtuoso, in fact it’s reserved. It’s competently made and you can tell everyone is proficient at their instruments, but it’s not flashy. There are sporadic drum fills here and there but the drums are soft and mixed quietly so we’re presented with a humble performance.
That’s something that runs to the core of this record.
The simple one word titles that are given to the tracks are effective in eliciting the same emotional experience that the music does as well. Sinking and The Joy of Being a River Flowing are both instrumental tracks, but the songs that do share the mournful vocal pairing are powerful and emotional.
“I named every single reason that I should stay/but one by one I watch them float away,” Elizabeth sings angelically over the subdued twinkly guitar noodling.
The album title is a reference to Bob Ross’ popular show The Joy of Painting. Throughout the album, the band samples particularly sad Ross quotes such as, “gotta have a little sadness once in a while so you know when the good times come. I’m waiting on the good times now.”
It’s an album that almost by definition does not command attention or impose itself on the listener, but that makes the experience that much more intimate. It takes three or four listens to properly sus out the tracks and appreciate the subtleties and nuances in the music, but doing so is a beautiful and rewarding experience.
8.5/10 – A cold room with warm blankets.