The dream pop and shoegaze collab duo between Pete Martin and producer Jarrod Ottinger, Summer Sleep, released their self-titled album just before the uprising summer 2020 began, and it’s the album you didn’t know you needed. It’s the transformative R&R that most of everyone forgot in these times of trouble and apocalyptic bingo. Let’s dive in and listen from start to finish – but first, get the big headphones.
“The Ocean Never Ends” begins with reverberation of sweet guitar sounds over a retro downtempo beat, both moving well in tandem with Pete’s vocals tying it all together. It’s a beautiful way to start an album, painting the imagery of ocean waves but with also a steady heartbeat and determination.
Next is “I Can’t Lie to You”. This one really gives you an experience, and it’s definitely a highlight of the album. Martin shows a lot of soul in the lyrics, he sets the atmosphere in the guitar and keys, and goes deeper in a colorful bass line. The pensive beat in the drums also drive the mission of the track, of which you can hear in the lyrics – “I have died a thousand times for you” – sung like a reluctant confession.
After these meditations, “Rise” gets you back in the game. Starting off with a steady guitar sequence and Martin’s vocals echoing beautifully, then introducing grity synth long notes, and finally, the drums come in as the call to action. This song has significance in the track order, as it’s placed in the middle of the EP. We must also recognize that the fade outs on “Rise” and “I Can’t Lie to You” make their statements even more effective – like “here, think about that for a while.”
“Please Stop Taking the Things I Love Away” – these sole lyrics for the track are sung in the beginning, then Martin begins another instrumental meditation, but it’s darker and more brooding. This song fulfills the role of the emotional deep cut. If 2020 were a mood, this would be it.
The Summer Sleep EP concludes with “What More Do You Need”, having retro wave beats and this time with warped, haunting vocals. Martin delivers almost another version of himself in this track, singing a tired cry with modal licks in between.
Producer Jarrod Ottinger and songwriter Pete Martin really came together on Summer Sleep by painting the atmospheric picture that dream pop does best and with its own unique message. Make sure to take a break from the continuous doom of our world at this moment and realize – we are humans growing positively into the next phase of our lives. We are rising, falling, facing, and believing again.
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