“Great Vacation!” is Sleeping in the Aviary’s third album release, following “Oh, This Old Thing” and “Expensive Vomit in a Cheap Motel”. This album is unlike their previous others. While SITA had formerly been rawer sounding with simpler sound that were less refined, “Great Vacation!” has high quality sound and layers of textures which makes it easier and more interesting to listen to. In this album the listener notices a heightened maturity level and a more imaginative array of topics addressed in their songs.
The opening song of “Great Vacation!” is “Y.M.C.A (No Not That One)” starts off with a very catchy riff that is repeated throughout the song. The lyrics of this song are superb. Beautiful imagery is used (“Came to you on a beach, sand between my feet, seaweed for a beard, the ocean licked my toes, they took off all my clothes”) with the sound of gargling water, which gives the listener a sense of being in the ocean. The use of harp and airy vocals during the bridge breaks up the song well. This song is very dynamic and keeps the listeners engaged.
The proceeding song is my favourite on the album. “Weightlessly In Love” is a dreamy song about lovers away from earth. Elliot Kozel, the vocalist and guitarist, did a fantastic job with light and airy vocals to convey weightlessness and lack of gravity in this song. The concept of being in space and away from gravity is a metaphor for being away from home and not weighed down by the presence of others. The lyrics are extremely heartfelt and loving; “Who cares about studying stars when we could be kissing on mars, sun moon me and you, weightlessly in love”. If my boyfriend and I moved to mars together, this would properly express our experiences and love for each other. While the song is about a fictional topic, it is still relatable.
“You Don’t Have to Drive” stands out with the vocals cutting through the twang guitar riffs and simple drumming patters. This song is less refined and reminds me a lot of their older albums. The loud cymbals during the chorus and the general distortion are very different from the first two songs on this album and I am not a fan of this particular song.
Ever wondered what would happen if your partner forgot “the safety word” during a kinky sexual experience? Well “Maria’s Ghost” may give you an idea of that experience. While I do not like the unnecessarily loud and beating intro, the lyrics are comical (“Sunday morning she would whip me right up to the edge, I would grip and grin in silence, but now she’s dead”) but also pleasant and catchy (“Lips like fresh cut honeydew, Dried and cracked now cold and blue oh doo bee doo”). The ukulele gives the song a happy feel despite the grave song topic. The horns and whistling solo make this song seem older and similar to early Beatles music.
“Last Kiss On a Sinking Ship” depicts the heart-wrenching story of lovers facing death while 150 miles away from the shore, “You’re the only girl I’ve seen that looks about my age who hasn’t sunk below the waves, so come on and touch me no one can punish us”. Harmonies and background vocals from a female, probably their accordion player Celeste, compliment Elliot’s voice beautifully and add depth to the song.
“Black-Out Fun” is so cute!! I love the background “ohh”s and “ahh”s make the song feel older and more vintage. The guitar is very boxy instead of having a riff or effects like in the other songs. While this song is very short at 2:12, it is still adds a lot of dimension to the album.
While all the songs on this album are okay, “Nothing” is my least favourite. I find it very boring. When I listen to it, I feel as though I will fall asleep. The guitar effects sound cheap and the song sounds the same throughout, nothing breaks up it up or keeps me interested.
“Axes Ground Looth Tooth” is sung predominantly by a female, probably Celeste again. When I first listened to this album, I almost thought this song was a mistake and my iTunes player had skipped the rest of the album, but low and behold, this song does in fact belong. This song sounds very strange and foreign to me. While most of the album had been guitar based, this song has pounding piano chords and a baritone singer under the light female vocals. I am also confused by the name of this song and the lyrics don’t seem to make sense “We were wrong, we were wrong, all that glitters is not gold, a gust of wind told us no, secrets got scattered around”. This song is just strange.
Another boring song on this album is “Start the Car”. It sounds like if all their songs on this album had a song baby, this would be that baby. It takes the common elements that “Sleeping in the Aviary” has used on this album and puts them all together. The bending guitar sounds make me want to fall asleep and the vocals are flat and boring.
One of the best stories told in a song on this album is “The Very Next Day I Died”. The lyrics describe scraping your knee, loving a girl, getting a job, getting married, getting rich, having kids, quitting drinking, being left by your wife for your brother, and dying the very next day. At the end, it describes trying to get past the ‘pearly gates’ into heaven but being stuck in line. I found this song dynamic and engaging. I love the irony the lyrics describe and the vocals seem genuine and frustrated.
As with all of Sleeping in the Aviary’s albums, there is a long pause of silence, then a random song, which does not fit in with the rest of the album starts. “Untitled” features falsetto vocals from Elliot signing with more electronic effects and dreamy textures. This is a bizarre ending to this album.
One thing I disliked about this album is that it is not very well collected or brought together. Each song has its own identity, which is pleasant, but none of them sound related and are about completely different things. I would have liked to see a common theme or something to give this album organisation and unity.
This album was a great transition for Sleeping in the Aviary. While fans of their older material may feel lost while listening to this album because of the huge change in genre and style, new listeners may embrace this album and its individuality. I have never seen any band create stories and use such beautiful sounds like SITA have. I love them!! download the album here..