Short-lived, relatively unknown, wildly experimental and self-consciously arty, This Heat were – at least for a time – a huge influence on all manner of progressive pop/rock and post-punk types. You listen to their stuff now and you can’t help but think that something went a bit wrong somewhere. Their second (and final) album, Deceit, came out 32 years ago and it still sounds newer and more daring than most of the (rock/indie) stuff currently out there. But hey, that’s an old story.
Sleep, the opening track from Deceit, isn’t particularly typical of their work. For a start, it’s very pretty – probably the prettiest thing they ever did. Essentially a lullaby, the opening does the job of lulling you into a sense of contentment before the African-ish drums kick in to rock you into dreamland. If you don’t pay close attention, you could quite easily lose yourself in its somnambulant atmosphere.
However, within the context of the album’s nuclear war paranoia and This Heat’s overall penchant for political and social awareness, you know that the song probably isn’t just a lullaby and is probably, instead, some kind of comment about us all sleepwalking into a kind of post-apocalyptic, Thatcherite nightmare. You know.
But even with that, and even with the coolly detached vocal, it remains a very lovely and very evocative paean to sleep.