For a trio of guys based in Indiana, Sleeping Bag channel California surprisingly well on their surf rock album, “Women of Your Life.” The record has a dreamy, carefree vibe, focusing on the instrumental and vocal abilities and range of the band.
Though surf music finds its roots in the 1960s, Sleeping Bag brings the genre into the 21st century by creating a full, layered sound. Because each member has had his time as a front man, the harmonies are knock-your-socks-off good. The harmonies on “Allison Cole” take the ska-esque track from simple to infectious, the two-word chorus (guess which two words…) repeating in the listener’s head like a battle cry.
The first and title track, “Women of Your Life,” is an unfortunately disappointing opening to the record. The song lacks the some of the hallmarks of a successful surf rock track—undeniable catchiness, striking harmonies—and instead replaces them with monotonously low vocals and repetitive power chords. The unchanging verses blend into one another, while the chorus gets a relative lift from mildly interesting guitar work. While not offensively boring or poorly produced, the track takes the elements that work so well together elsewhere on the album and creates mediocrity that is unfortunately replicated on other songs on the record. “Soda You” and “Still Life” also both take Sleeping Bag’s dreamy pop to the extreme, turning it into sleepy pop.
On certain tracks, Sleeping Bag takes deliberate steps to evade this monotony. At the beginning of “Saturday Night” they use over-exaggerated strumming and whistling to create different levels of sound and timbre. “Soccer Ball’ features vibrato guitar techniques, creating a more bluesy sound, and “Walk Home” ends the album on a high note, the track creating different emotions within itself, the guitar moving between the background and the spotlight to build a driving, animated sound. It’s very cleverly and expertly done, a skill that would have been welcome throughout the rest of the record.