Available on: Hippos in Tanks LP
Stefanie Franciotti’s SLEEP ∞ OVER, formally a three-piece, now the work of Franciotti solo, has the unenviable task of entering a US underground pop scene that in recent years has been over-saturated with artists making lo-fi, synth-driven pop music that looks to the ‘80s for inspiration. On Forever, her debut album, she doesn’t quite separate herself from this sound (the all caps name w/ symbol doesn’t help, after all), but she does display more than enough song-writing talent to establish her as a highlight of it, with potential way beyond that of the chancers.
In a recent interview with FACT, Franciotti claimed that working solo allowed her to get deeper into the layers of her songs, and it shows – one thing you could never accuse Forever of is being half-arsed. Not content with strong hooks and melodies (both frequents on this record: ‘Casual Diamond’ and ‘Romantic Streams’ particular highlights), Forever’s tracks always sound full, with meaty basslines, banks of drums and at times, drawn-out crescendos that recall more experimental recent albums by Julia Holter or Roly Porter. On ‘The Heavens Turn by Themselves’, Franciotti sounds eerily like her Hippos in Tanks labelmate Laurel Halo, another who emerged in, and then swiftly ascended from, the contemporary US’s hazy undergrowth.
Although Forever is a very enjoyable listen, neatly straddling the line between more experimental one-person projects and hook-driven pop, you get the impression that for Franciotti, it’s a starting point rather than a destination, and it’s on future records that she’s going to get really interesting. As debut albums go though, it’s a strong one.