Carmen Villain, Sleeper
A former cover model, Carmen Villain’s longtime gig was to effortlessly exude beauty. Things haven’t changed too much: Now a musician, on her remarkably engaging, dark and oftentimes abrasive debut album, Sleeper, the singer and multi-instrumentalist simply expresses her loveliness in a more nuanced shade. Heavy on reverb and made for headphones, the decidedly lo-fi album, its tracks washing up onto another, calls to mind Sonic Youth and Royal Trux. “Lifeissin,” Villain’s spectacular debut single, remains the album’s centerpiece, the singer muttering caustic couplets (“Seek out seek in/ Breathe frost, yeah/ Life is sin”). But it’s the album’s wilder moments, like the acid-infused samba of a head trip “Obedience” — Villain’s Lana Del Rey-on-peyote vocals emerging from the mist — that warrant repeat listens. “Oh hollow sense of time/ The good ride cannot come too soon,” she crows on the self-effacing “Made a Shell.” Villain best buckle up. Her new journey’s begun.