Casey – Where I Go When I Am Sleeping

By Matthew Wilson

On ‘Making Weight’, the tender opener to ‘Where I Go When I Am Sleeping,’ vocalist Tom Weaver sets the scene of entropy that envelops the entire album, recounting how he was found on the bathroom floor by his mother, losing blood. And it only gets more visceral from here on out. Casey’s debut album ‘Love Is Not Enough’ was a strong stab at staking out their place in the melodic hardcore scene, but felt like the band’s identity wasn’t yet realised. Caught between the shoegaze emo ambience of Balance And Composure and the rawness of Touche Amore’s confessionals, Casey sometimes stumbled under the weight of their influences.

In stark contrast, ‘Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’ breaks new ground for the band by tearing open old wounds and finding new lyrical themes in the process. This is a record concerned with illness, both mentally and physically, of which Weaver is well versed. Born with brittle bones, diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at 15 and manic depression at 20, Weaver’s struggle with illnesses in various forms conjure up images of immobilising decay and isolation. By drawing on Weaver’s lived experiences, this record packs a serious weight.

Casey’s songwriting tactic of mixing tender, expansive musical passages with their hardcore roots adds to Weaver’s conflicted mental state. It’s used well on single ‘Phosphenes,’ bouncing between heavier hardcore riffs and expansive, reverb heavy guitar parts before blending them together for a melodic finale as Weaver broods over how his “vacancy and apathy are all I have left to show for years I spent in isolation”.

Isolation, alongside fluorescent hospital lights, blood and decay, is one of the repeated themes that helps to tie ‘Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’ together. On ‘Fluorescents’, Weaver sings “I can feel the decay, in a hospital bed, I wither away,” before demanding in a huge chorus to “give me one good reason to believe I’m getting better”. It’s a haunting snapshot of the alienation that acute medical conditions bring.

With its hospital setting, immobilised rage and panicky angst, ‘Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’ is about the absolute terror of the victim, angry, immobilised and ashamed of their illness. ‘Flowers By The Bed’ reflects the disappointment of Weaver’s visitors in hearing he’s “stopped talking again,” and been “sleeping through the day”, while ‘Needlework’ describes a breakup, with Weaver unpicking his sutures, untangling himself as slow winding guitars and reverb drenched lead lines lead to a realisation that “even love is ruthless, but I survive, no thanks to you”. 

Though largely successful, there are some moments where the album stumbles. ‘Wavering’ and the first half of ‘Wounds’ are straight up hardcore songs, and despite still being strong offerings, they aren’t as interesting as the shoegaze songs on this record. This might be a stylistic criticism, but the strongest songs on this record are the ones where the hardcore vocals are either absent or used sparingly. There are some songs where these styles are blended well together, like ‘The Funeral,’ where the contrast of the clean melancholic verses and rage-filled choruses work well together; but the hardcore vocals at the end of ‘Bruise’ undercut the beautifully delicate first half of the song’s gratefulness towards the unconditional love of a new partner. Maybe Casey should bite the bullet and drop the shouted vocals entirely.

‘Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’ is a significant step up from Casey’s debut record. The lyrical consistency, heart-wrenching honesty and mature musicianship elevates Casey’s sound above their influences. Brittle bones or none, Casey’s wounds are on display for the world to see.

MATTHEW WILSON

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