Blame Bon Iver. Ever since that log-cabin brand of hushed heartbreak whimpering came good, it’s spawned a lot of me-too types looking for the same thing. While Vancouver Sleep Clinic – aka Tim Bettinson – is certainly not the worst offender in all this, there is an overly familiar element to his debut record Revival that prevents it from hitting greatness.
It’s an album that certainly has strong individual elements, though never quite adapts them to a cohesive (or refreshing) whole. For a genre that relies greatly on the pathos of its auteur, it’s hard to overlook the fact that the first three tracks don’t quite resonate with any discernible emotion, instead being somewhat sanitised by over-production.
Still, when it lands it does so with grace. Someone To Stay takes the vulnerable refrain “we all need someone to stay” and weaves alt-folk magic around it, while the stunning centrepiece Lung starts with cinematic piano and spins a haunting, unforgettable ballad.
The second half is certainly more enjoyable because of this, and the trip-hop inflected Letting Go. But once again, Bettinson’s reliance on studio sheen takes away from what is arguably the most powerful instrument he owns: his voice. We’re given one more reminder of that in Sleeping World, but ultimately this Sleep Clinic ends up being the right place for a snooze.