Stream Haybaby Sleepy Kids (Stereogum Premiere)

Band To Watch (and best new band) Haybaby have been swirling around the Brooklyn show circuit for a few years now, but it was only this past winter that the trio solidified themselves around a consistent enough lineup that they felt comfortable enough with putting out a debut record. And while Sleepy Kids may be their first official effort, it shows off the hard-won scars of its creation: These are well-executed, razor-sharp punk songs that are as itchy and nervy as they are a blast to listen to.

It all kicks off with “Old Friends” and “New Friends,” two sides of the same friendship coin. The first is a scrawled firestarter, a frustrated scream about never being someone’s priority: “I don’t give a fuck if you were taking a nap!/ I don’t give a fuck if you were on the internet!/ I don’t give a fuck if you were reading a book!” vocalist Leslie Hong shrieks. “You should’ve let me know!!!” Every word in the song is underlined in angry red pen, but its “New” counterpart displays all the hope and passion of a relationship that hasn’t been ruined by bitterness just yet: “Come over to my house/ We can hang out, or we can go out.”

That’s followed up by the caustic, smart, and dispirited anti-establishment song “Sharks,” which questions the very idea of a militarized police force (“Why would you give a shark a weapon? Hunting in the streets…”) while also recognizing the slim possibility of us ever finding a solution: “Broken systems saving only monsters and their kind/ We can’t fix it, we can’t stop it, so why even try?/ Powerless, I stand so skeptical … giving up.”

They band has a lot to say, and they say it well, with appropriately scrappy dramatics. Like on “Shy,” when Hong’s voice stretches in the chorus — “I don’t even know your naaaaaaaame” — emoting all the stress that comes with wanting to talk to someone but not having the courage. The jagged, fidgety instrumentation meets Hong at every swift turn. See the grungey album closer “Doored,” or the shambling “Elevator Song” for how versatile the band can be when needed. These songs are built on a foundation of anxiety and disquiet, but they come across as self-assured and in control, at least as far as the music goes. Whatever emotions transpire from that … well, that’s part of the magic. Check it out below.

Sleepy Kids is out 10/30 via Tiny Engines. Pre-order it here.

Tags: Haybaby