Review: “Sleep Cycle” by Deakin

Deakin drops a release that actually outshines his Animal Collective counterparts.


Alex Ralston, Co-Editor-in-Chief

If you’ve ever listened to Animal Collective before, you might know that some members of the group aren’t constant, appearing on select records in their discography. One of those members is Josh Dibbs, otherwise known as Deakin, who has been absent on both “Merriweather Post Pavilion” and “Painting With,” two of Animal Collective’s most celebrated and most criticized records, respectively.

In 2010, after fans funded part of his solo tour, Deakin promised them solo material, but wasn’t able to deliver within the timeframe he had initially set. Ever since, fans have begged for a solo project, and after six long years, Deakin released his debut album, “Sleep Cycle.”

There will inevitably be Animal Collective comparisons due to his membership in the group, and sometimes those comparisons hold true. A lot of the time on “Sleep Cycle,” Deakin utilizes many of the devices the Collective and its members have put into their music: loads of reverb, unorthodox compositions, delay, vocal effects, flangers, and plenty of miscellaneous musical garnishes. In fact, the intro track, “Golden Chords,” almost sounds like an acoustic reimagination of a “Merriweather Post Pavilion” song, and some of the synths on “Just Am” feel like they would fit perfectly on an Avey Tare song.

Other than that, though, Deakin finds a lot to say in his own unique voice. “Golden Chords” and “Good House” both feature very personal and endearing vocals, and give both tracks a lot of personality and emotion. Although they could use some refining, I think Deakin’s vocals really make these songs as great as they are.

Aside from that, though, the lyrics on “Sleep Cycle” capture a lot of themes and emotions, such as confusion and anger on tracks like “Footy” and “Just Am.” However, the main theme that seems to run throughout this album is that life is a treasure and shouldn’t be wasted on negativity. On “Golden Chords,” Deakin softly speaks to some friend of his to let go of their anger and embrace change, something else that appears on “Good House.” I love all the soft, conciliatory bits of advice that Deakin passes on to listeners, and at parts I wonder if he’s addressing an outside audience or himself.

The instrumental cuts on the album are so-so, but at the very least, they transition between songs very well and add a lot of texture and context for the other more lyrical songs. For example, “Seed Song” is just a loop of distant vocals mixed in with a wash of rainy percussion and miscellaneous samples, but it leads perfectly into the closer track,“Good House.”

Deakin really delivered with this project. Some artists take years to complete albums and end up releasing disappointing messes, but Deakin managed to compose himself after all that time and write a satiating, peaceful, beautiful album that has managed to impress me with each repeated listen. “Sleep Cycle” may sound familiar to some, and internet analysts will try and pick at the album and connect it with Animal Collective in the most absurd ways; however, I think this record stands alone as a great example of exactly what a solo album should be.

Grade: A

Favorite tracks: “Golden Chords,” “Just Am,” “Footy,” “Good House”

Listen to the album here.