In late 2010, drummer Mikey Jones (The Big Sleep, Swervedriver, Snowden) and singer/guitarist Matt Sumrow (Dean and Britta, The Comas, Ambulance LTD) decided to start a project together. With the additions of bassist Luke Hayden Senkbeil and keyboardist Ryan Lee Dunlap, the band Heaven was created. Telepathic Love is the debut album from the New York natives.
The nine-track LP is as entrancing as it is sonically painful. The group’s sound, full of feedback, droning, and heavy bass and guitar, is noticeable from the first track “Color in the Whites of Your Eyes.” Heaven has a clearly conceptualized sound for itself that is coherent throughout the album.
A problem arises, though, when the loud, occasionally abrasive sounds drown out the poorly enunciated lyrics, making the words just another piece of the sonic framework. Sumrow’s vocals are most clearly audible on “Southern Rain.” The lyrics are curious, especially when paired with an acoustic guitar and a steady buzzing. Sumrow repeats, “Southern rain falling through my window/Southern rain doesn’t fall at all/Southern rain falling through my window/Falling lonely/Fall asleep against your phone.”
The title track, “Telepathic Love,” is perhaps the most pleasant listen on the album because it is melodic and somewhat playful, especially considering that Heaven tends to be slow and less mellifluous.
Heaven’s album may not be the most upbeat, but it is indeed entrancing. The guitar strums, steady rhythms, and chill vibe create an atmosphere that is oddly tactile throughout the entire album.
The shifts between sounds and melodies give the music texture, yet it is contained within a very particular realm. Because Heaven has an individualized sound, the album is so coherent that the tracks flow effortlessly.
“Put Me Away (Interlude)” is more exploratory. The interlude is exactly what the album needed, an experimental break that allows the listener to bask in the musical qualities without distraction from the vocals. The other tracks are engaging because of Sumrow’s voice, but the interlude is interesting because of its lucid, wandering qualities.
Part of what makes Telepathic Love such an interesting project is the clear collaborative effort. When compared to the previous work by each of the musicians, Heaven’s music has clear influences from each one’s past. The delicate moments on Telepathic Love parallel that of Dean and Britta, and some of the guitar strums are reminiscent of The Big Sleep. One can hear how band member brought something to the project.
While Heaven’s debut has interesting moments, the prominence of the guitars, droning, and feedback make it an acquired taste. The lack of accessibility isn’t simply a result of experimental tendencies—the collaboration between the musicians is interesting, but as a whole, Telepathic Love lacks innovation. Heaven’s debut simply sounds like the side project that it is.
Heaven – Telepathic Love tracklist:
- “Colors in the Whites of Your Eyes”
- “Telepathic Love”
- “Falling Apple”
- “Mountains Move”
- “New Amsterdam”
- “Southern Rain”
- “Put Me Away (Interlude)”
- “Once the Heartache”