‘Always Searching For Sleep’ is a strong addition to the discography of Dublin-based band Diving Bells, with a distinctive sound that melds dreamy, drawn-out shoegaze with blustering noise rock sensibilities.
Initially formed in South Korea in 2013, this is the group’s first foray back into the scene 7 years after the release of their ‘Connection’ and ‘Paper Thin’ EPs.
The majority of the former was standard grungy fare, but the eponymous final track is a stark departure in style – it’s a deafening and altogether fantastic chunk of noise. This led into the outright shoegazing of ‘Paper Thin’, creating a clear blueprint for the carefully refined sound that’s found on their latest release.
The EP stumbles slightly out of the gate as the opener Always begins with some offbeat vocal delivery, causing the track’s first few lines to be imbued with a lethargic and unenthusiastic cadence. Both the act of “listening to the rain tapping on my window” and a plea of “won’t someone come and lead me out of this darkness” are granted equal emotional weight – they’re drawled in the same vaguely bored tone.
Thankfully, this is only a false start as the song very swiftly pulls itself together and forms into an anthemic, energetic tune. It’s the most straightforward and accessible track for certain, with a shout-along chorus and some standout drum work.
Aside from the deliciously crunchy guitar, this track is far from representative of the EP – it is the last vestige of typical alt-rock to be found here as the following tracks prove to be a definitive callback to the band’s crushing roots.
Searching clocks in at just under 2 and a half minutes, but despite its short runtime manages to densely pack in lurching, sludgy riffs that are wrapped up in increasingly thick layers of delay. It’s a rousing midpoint that marks the record’s descent into a significantly more aggressive place, and an impressive tease for what comes next.
The finale, Sleeper is undoubtedly the EP’s strongest track, opening with an immediate and unforgiving salvo of distortion-drenched guitars. It’s a lengthy and violent listen compared to the tracks before, with a constant swelling drone in the background accompanying deadpan, reverb-drowned vocals that feel like they’re calling out from a particularly unsettling dream – their delicate mixing constantly skirmishes with harsh guitar lines.
If you’re willing to wade through a veritable swamp of feedback and fuzz, you’ll find that Diving Bells have crafted an impressive and deep soundscape to dip your toes into. It’s a well-paced, thoroughly enjoyable record to showcase their penchant for maintaining nuance amidst noise.