“We’ve recorded this damn album, like, three times now,” laughed bassist Alex Peck, referencing Sandman Sleeps’ perfectionism on their debut album, Crisis Actor [release date: March 26, 2021] that took nearly a decade to complete. Embroidering songs old and new with honed musicality and diverse life experience, the band was originally formed by Cristina Peck and her bassist sister Alex as teens, but between spells of separation and togetherness, of depression and exploration, in art school and in various cities and bands, the sisters missed their unspoken sibling synergy that was absent when they were isolated from one another.
Sandman Sleeps reconvened with renewed passion in 2019 and was enhanced even more with the addition of drummer Karsten Andersen and guitarist Zack Jones in early 2020. The album’s mesmerizing first single “Portrait of Jennie” (out today) was written by Cristina in June of 2020 amidst the “oddly liberating claustrophobia” of being co-quarantined on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway with her then-partner, a time in which she says she was “physically trapped yet increasingly spiritually free.”
While in that COVID-caused quarantine, Cristina says she had little to no energy, and it became a goal each day to take a few steps out on the beach area, spending most of her time looking out the window. “The beautiful morning light coming in through the window and the surreal headiness of being sick and scared definitely played into the lyrics,” she says. Having recently watched the 1948 classic film Portrait of Jennie, she also took inspiration from the movie's fantastical plot: star-crossed lovers intertwined by time travel that brings them together but ultimately splits them apart. “They only had so much time together before they would be separated by an outside force again.”
Since Cristina barely had energy while writing the track due to her battle with COVID, the tempo was very slow to start and it still felt very acoustic even by the time she showed “Portrait of Jennie” to Alex. Cristina says, Alex then wrote a “dynamic and rooting” bass part which added an “intensity” to the song and the sound became even more visceral while playing it with the full band. “Karsten made up an interesting, syncopated rhythm for the pre-chorus and chorus which fit perfectly, while Zack’s guitar playing rooted with the bass for the verses and then using dreamy tones for the choruses, added to this sense of swinging back and forth from reality to dreamworld/other dimension,” she adds.
Crisis Actor will be released on March 26, 2021 and can be pre-ordered/pre-saved at https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/sandmansleeps/crisis-actor.