Dark blue themed art with a guy sitting up in bed and the words Sussman Can't Sleep and We don't dream, we worry

There is a restaurant in Las Vegas called the Lotus of Siam. It’s a pretty unassuming place, and until recently was actually located in a strip mall. Despite this, people in the know tell me that it has the best Thai food anywhere in the world except (maybe) Thailand. I was lucky enough to be taken there recently by a friend who happens to have a lot more money than I do.

Although I’m not really a connoisseur, the food was certainly good. In particular, they had a crispy rice appetizer which was an explosion of flavor – sweet, sour, spicy and licorice all coming at you at once. The phrase “it’s like a party in my mouth” is probably overused, but it was totally like a party in my mouth.

Which brings me to “We Don’t Dream We Worry,” the new EP from the band Sussman Can’t Sleep. Sussman, which bills itself as “dark rock for the masses,” serves up a wide swath of everything from punk to Britpop with a generous helping of mid-70’s Neil Young and even some surf rock. Sometimes it throws all of these at you in the same song or even at the same time. Somehow they make it work, embracing variety but avoiding cacophony.

The second song on the EP, “Untidled,” is one of the better instrumentals that I have heard. My general rule on instrumentals is that they are songs that weren’t worth writing lyrics for, but that isn’t the case here. This one is a wild mess of organ fueled surf pop which could serve as the soundtrack for half the car chase movies in history. And a super tasty guitar solo. It’s good. So, so good.

The next track, “Building the Wrecking Ball,” gets a little bogged down at first with too many words ending in “ence.” It gets back on track, though, with a great vocal hook on the second line of the chorus, “I’ll think I’ll stay for a little while.”

The fourth track, “Horse Drawn Specter,” is probably my favorite song on the EP. It begins with scat vocals over a walking bass line that suddenly fills out with electric piano. A ramped-up chorus is followed by an inordinately catchy series of sardonic “da da dums.” The bridge is sung in the manner of Spinal Tap’s David St. Hubbins. It’s like three great songs rolled into one.

“Moth Waltz” is, as the name suggests, a waltz in 3/4 time on the verses. It seems to describe some pretty reckless relationship conduct: “[t]hough you’re sleeping in my arms, I know you’ll do me harm.” By the end of it the narrator is agreeing to “fly straight into your sun.” This isn’t ending well.

The sixth track, “Dust,” manages to be both expansive and claustrophobic, like looking into the night sky but feeling every inch of your skin. A battery of vocal tracks soar over keyboard arpeggios and an ever-changing rhythm. The eerily beautiful ending is almost a song to itself

The final song on the EP, “Don’t Mistake Me,” is everything you could want from an introspective pop gem; anthemic, hesitant and just a bit vague. Of all the songs on the EP, this one has the best lyrics: “[a]s the night grew more familiar, and the moon began to boast, you stumbled on a wounded soldier, you mistook me for my ghost.” The only down side is that the final vocal “[d]on’t mistake me for my ghost” has been stuck in my head for three days and counting.

Oddly, the only real miss on the EP happens to be its first song, “Stupid Little Stories.” It has great guitar tone and a good chorus but is otherwise something of a mess. The vocal is sitting all wrong in the mix, and there are several cringe inducing moments of a cappella profanity. For some reason the guitar riff from Johnny Rivers’ “Secret Agent Man” makes an appearance. I’m just not sure where they were going with this one.

We Don’t Dream is certainly eclectic, but it is absolutely cohesive. It’s a great listen, and nobody else out there is doing stuff like this. Three of the songs – “Untidled,” “Horse Drawn Specter,” and “Don’t Mistake Me” are damn near spectacular. I’m already looking forward to their next one.

The EP Release party will be at the Spacebar, 2960 N. High Street, on Saturday, July 21 at 8 PM - 11:59 PM. Supporting will be Lemon Sky and Electro Cult Circus. 

Appears in Issue: