Album Review: Thunder Dreamer – ‘Summer Sleeping’

Posted: by The Editor

There is a style of music that has become increasingly prominent in recent years. It’s a hybrid of the driving, stadium-ready heartland rock of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen and the hazy ambiance of dream pop. The War on Drugs are pioneers of this type of work, Wild Pink toyed with the formula on their masterful Yolk in the Fur, and Trace Mountains entered into the conversation earlier this year, but Thunder Dreamer have been quietly perfecting the style for years.

Their take is a bit more languid than the other bands mentioned above, especially on their latest EP Summer Sleeping. “House and Garden” ushers in the EP with a clean, chiming guitar and Steven Hamilton’s soothing falsetto. When the rest of the band pops up 45 seconds later, it doesn’t beef up the song – rather, it fills in the gaps. Bright keys drizzle in and out, giving the song almost the feel of a lullaby. Indeed, Summer Sleeping is a fair title, as the songs are so restrained and pretty that they’re nearly sleepy. Overall, it’s a good way to set the stage for what to expect from the rest of the EP.

It is, however, the shortest song on Summer Sleeping by a fair bit. After “Of a Million,” the band gives the songs even more time to expand. The bass-led “Lorraine” builds to a symphonic swell in its final two minutes before that dies down and gives way to a twangy, alt-country inspired denouement, a true testament to the band’s ability to tinker around the edges of a number of genres while never getting pigeonholed into one.

The penultimate “It Slows Down” is aptly named, a dirge that creeps like molasses to a triumphant finish. It has the pace of a Codeine song, and Hamilton slips effortlessly between his upper and lower registers beat by beat. It’s the slowest slow burn on the EP, but it’s one of the most captivating songs. The most captivating, however, is the closer: “Blurred Out,” Summer Sleeping’s take on a sweeping rock and roll song, with an echoing chorus and an overdriven bridge that, piece by piece, disintegrates into a piano jangle before at last winding down to a soft twinkle. It’s the closest song to the rollicking material of Capture or Lonesome Morning, but filtered through the band’s newfound love of texture and space. It’s a synthesis of Thunder Dreamer’s catalog into one song, and it’s, fittingly, one of their best. Some fans might miss the energy of those LPs – but what Summer Sleeping lacks in energy, it makes up for in richness. 


Disappointing / Average/ Good / Great / Phenomenal

Zac Djamoos | @gr8whitebison

The Alternative is ad-free and 100% supported by our readers. If you’d like to help us produce more content and promote more great new music, please consider donating to our Patreon page, which also allows you to receive sweet perks like free albums and The Alternative merch.