It may have taken some time to get going but in the last few weeks 2012 has produced some great records. And the Big Sleep‘s ‘Nature Experiments’ is right up there with the very best of what 2012 has to offer.

For those of you unfamiliar with the NYC band, mountainous guitars are the order of the day. Although significant chunks of the band’s first two LPs were instrumental there wasn’t too much in the way of post-rock on offer – the Big Sleep are far more direct than that.

Yet, since it’s been nearly four years since the second record ‘Sleep Forever’, I’d kind of forgotten how much I loved this band. Fortunately ‘Nature Experiments’ rekindles that love affair with a vengeance.

At times the Big Sleep come over almost as heavy shoegaze. Some of their  best moments are created by the adrenaline rush of the wall of guitars kicking in. At these times (see in particular the two brilliant singles ‘Ace’ and ‘Valentine’ but also the unexpected climax on ‘Ghosts In Bodies’) they put tunes in amongst the noise and manage to satisfy in a way that shoegaze never really managed for me.

Some of Sonya’s melodies are quite wistful but that only provides a terrific counterpoint to the crunching, soaring rush of guitars. As ever though, for me, it’s the melodies that elevate a record and ‘Nature Experiments’ is stuffed full of great songs. The appeal of the melodies is heightened by the fact that this time around there are no instrumentals.

This isn’t a record though that relies solely on wall to wall guitars – sure, ‘Four Wishes’ has something of a gonzo riff and ‘Meet Your Maker’ is a twisted glam stomp, but there’s lots of subtleties on display too. ‘Red Carpet’ illustrates the electronic undertow to the album by coming on like Daft Punk with metal guitars whilst ‘1001’ is reminiscent of nothing other than ‘Walking Away’ by Sugar, based as it around a repetitive organ riff.

‘Nature Experiments’ is a well rounded and satisying record and actually, when I say that it’s up there with the best this year, I’m not quite nailing it. IMHO ‘Nature Experiments’ is the best record of the year so far. Awesome.

Here’s the video for 2nd single ‘Valentine’:

The Big Sleep cross the Atlantic for a short UK/European tour next week. Dates:

Saturday, May 12 (@ 14:15) The Hope @ The Great Escape, Brighton, UK (tix)

Monday, May 14: Music In Beta @ The Castle, Manchester, UK (tix or Free for a Facebook like)

Tuesday, May 15: Nice N Sleazys, Glasgow, UK (tix)

Wednesday, May 16: The Barfly, London, UK (tix)

Thursday, May 17: The Kazimier @ Liverpool Sound City, Liverpool, UK (tix)

Friday, May 18: Fleche D’Or w/EMA, Paris, France (tix)

Saturday, May 19: London Calling @ Paradiso, Amsterdam, Holland (tix)

Photo by Ebru Yildiz