Released on: Gold Against the Soul (Album #2) Columbia Records, 14 June 1993
The opener and cult favourite from Gold Against the Soul, ‘Sleepflower’ is among the most highly thought of songs on an album known for the the mixed feelings it has provoked in fans, critics, and the band themselves. Brighter and more anthemic than most of what was to follow, the track works as the best openers usually do – by being a fairly comfortable jumping-on point for the album as a whole.
If hearing lead single [A41] ‘From Despair to Where’ alerted fans to the grittier sound that was coming, listening to ‘Sleepflower’ for the first time will have confirmed that harder edges and more personal themes were the order of the day. The song’s core driving riff is surely one of the primary reasons for the song’s enduring popularity and it isn’t hard to see why – it is another small demonstration of Bradfield’s growth into a truly remarkable guitarist. The largely instrumental breakdown section is also intriguing, in no small part due to Bradfield’s angelic sighing, a technique that would see much more use in later years.
As is made clear in its title, ‘Sleepflower’ contains lyrics that are mainly concerned with the subject of sleep and insomnia, a topic that would recur in the band’s work occasionally. Edwards explained that during the writing process, he had been influenced by the growing trend of using medicines, alcohol or various other techniques to overcome a difficulty sleeping.
‘Sleepflower’ is essentially the only song from Gold Against the Soul that was not a single but which continued to be played live over the long term. The song was performed for Japanese TV during 1993 in a pseudo-live version which is essentially the studio recording plus live vocals from Bradfield. Although not an accurate representation of the song played live, the footage is notable for being a good example of the laid back, hard rock style the band adopted during this era – and Bradfield’s dyed blond haircut.
“at least a beaten dog knows how to lie”