REVIEW: Static Animal - Morning Sounds

Kelly Kirwan

Self-proclaimed “morning people” have always appeared to me as strange, vaguely mythical, creatures. Immune to bleary eyes, unbothered by an empty tin of coffee... What do alarms even sound like to them, lightly rustled wind chimes? As you can imagine (from my slick subtext), I've always preferred the later wake-up call, constantly sleep-deprived and unimpressed by the early rays of dawn. That is, until a certain Melbourne-based trio presented a case for what stirs at sunrise, with their sophomore EP, Morning Sounds

Static Animal have returned with a glinting shoegaze for their six-track follow-up to 2015's self-titled debut. There’s an almost narrative quality to how their songs are placed, with the opening and closing tracks acting as mirror opposites and lyric-less bookends. The opening number, “Runner” has an effortless roll; it’s a quick-footed melody that’s both enrapturing and primes your mind for wandering (in the most relaxing way), semi-soft cymbal tapping blurring together with undulating guitar notes. If Morning Sounds is truly an ode to those early hours, then “Runner” is that last gasp of the night before, still feeling warm-fuzzy and winding down from a fading party. The closing track, “Break” just brushes past one minute. It’s delicate, with sliding guitar notes having a harp-like effect and piquant pitch. If we were to do a quick color association, “Break” would be a robin’s egg blue—a sweet and succinct melody, as lightweight as the first ray of sun stretching over the horizon.

The songs in-between these are lightly peppered with mumbling vocals, courtesy of Michael Gibbon, who multitasks on guitar, bass, keyboard and percussion. Sam Pannifex and Dan Oke round out the sound on their respective guitars, with each note lingering, even as they pick up the pace between chord progressions. Percussion comes to the forefront on “Spring Cassette,” with a puttering that’s punctuated by the occasional ambient sound in the background. The song swells, nearly three full minutes of a tapping beat that finishes with an abrupt fall-off. Gibbon’s low murmur is absent again in this melody, but Static Animal’s affinity for beguiling jamming is ever present. 

Which makes sense, considering the band isn’t exactly prone to being flashy. They’ve honed their style as “nocturnal pop,” (an ironic self-categorization, considering) and create a trance-like atmosphere with their sedated strums and laid-back vocals. This drawling style isn’t a hint at any sort of laziness, though. Static Animal are curious and relaxed creatures of the night that are lingering right at the day’s beginning. Morning Sounds is an eclectic arrangement of lo-fi numbers which weave elements of experimental rock, the dreamy mood of psych, and a little krautrock for a kick. Out now on Sports Day Records, it’s a worthy addition to your playlist.

Mornings have never seemed so interesting.