Sleeping in the Aviary’s new album Great Vacation! is either incredibly ironic or incredibly sincere—it’s hard to tell. It simultaneously speaks (albeit sarcastically) to the masses of bored youth, who can’t find a thing in the world to pull them out of the drudgery of the daily grind, while at the same time remaining an acute and clearly enthusiastic ode to the minutiae of everyday life. Song topics range from the typical to the bizarre: “Weightlessly in Love” is a sweet tune about innocuous love, while “Maria’s Ghost” takes a slightly different perspective on the same emotion. The ballad begins, “Me, I held Maria/ while she struggled on the bed/ She forgot the safety word/ Now she’s dead,” and goes on to tell the story of an ex-lover killed in action.
This is the band’s third CD, and accordingly they sound comfortable but not complacent. However, they haven’t lost the appealing garage-band feel—resulting in a sound a bit like The M’s but with more energetic, clearer vocals. The five person ensemble has enough talent to vary their style from track to track, making the solo male voice in “Blacked-Out Fun” sound just as good as the delicate duet of “Weightlessly in Love” and the female soloist of “Axes Ground Looth Tooth.” The constant fight between fierce emotion and downright ridiculousness is only somewhat resolved in the final track, which starts, “Nine years old and I skinned my knees/ They told me I’d be fine/ Told me I’d be fine/ and the very next day I died.” But the lyrics go on to describe the same emotion in response to getting a job, buying a house, and generally going through the monotonous routine of growing up. In the end, I would have to weigh in on the side of complete sincerity—this is a band without pretensions, but not without heart.