Sleep Whale, formerly Mom, has been floating around Texas since 2006, but Houseboat is the quartet’s official full-length debut. Guitarist/cellist Joel North and multi-instrumentalist (e.g. field recordings, guitar, bass, violin, percussion) Bruce Blay released 2007’s Little Brite EP as a duo: The 13 new tracks were fleshed out with the assistance of Paul North and Spencer Stephenson, who join the guys on-stage, though it’s still largely the work of Sleep Whale’s founders and likely sounds bigger because they’ve found craftier ways to cram more sounds into their compositions. The collection offers a seamlessly interwoven mix of dreamy electro-acoustic instrumentals and airy pop songs, a combo reminiscent of Greg Davis and Parisian Sebastian Roux’s lovely 2005 collaboration Paquet Surprise. Here, the best songs evoke a deep-green forest even before you catch the cut-out trees on the front and inner sleeve. (Speaking of which, the patchwork quilting on the cover’s appropriate, too.) Likewise, the gurgling “We Were Dripping” has a real chill to it.
Sleep Whale – “We Were Dripping” (MP3)
Here’s the album’s poppiest moment: It comes just before “We Were Dripping,” after which things drift into a deeper ambiance.