Later this week, Brighton quintet We Never Learned To Live will release their second album out into the world. Ahead of that, though, we’re streaming ‘The Sleepwalk Transmissions’ in full, while the band’s frontman Seán Mahon and Dave Kane talk us through the whole album, track-by-track.
“Having already garnered a cult respect around the release of debut ‘Silently We Threw Them Skyward’ for their balancing act of heavy riffs and melodic vocals, it’s with this follow-up that they grow even stronger,” we wrote in our review of the record. “Packed with engaging structures and impressive production, ‘The Sleepwalk Transmissions’ is an album that sees them soar skyward once again.”
“This album is an amalgamation of sci-fi short stories with a narrative arc exploring what it means to be human in a world of increasing artificial intelligence, alternate realities and a reliance on technology,” says Seán, of the album’s overall themes. “It is both our heaviest and most melodic record to date and we are ecstatic to share it after four years in the making.”
Listen to ‘The Sleepwalk Transmissions’ below, and check out our track-by-track underneath the player.
As soon as this track was written we knew was the only choice of opener. It sets the scene both musically and lyrically for the rest of the album and it’s probably our most aggressive song to date. It definitely lays down the gauntlet for what’s to come, and let’s people know we’re back, and with a bag full of riffs!
Lyrically this is my favourite, Seán weaves this really intricate web of metaphor based on a short story he wrote about someone being operated on by androids and being put under. The imagery is of rapid memories flashing through your mind being contrasted with a serene robotic voice telling you to relax.
‘Human Antenna’ follows on from ‘Android Anaesthetist’ thematically as if that’s the main character’s new state post-operation. This was actually the first song we had written after our last LP and it was the first complete song Brett [Houslop] brought to the table while we were writing. When we heard this it solidified the sound for the new album, and it became the new standard for anything else we brought to work on. It’s a track that has the classic WNLTL ebb and flow and musically bridges ‘The Sleepwalk Transmissions’ with ‘Silently…’.
‘The Clocks’ is about that crushing, empty feeling you get when thinking about your own mortality, laced with contemplation and anxiety. The basis for this track came from an improvised jam not long after the last LP and is probably one of the oldest to make it to ‘The Sleepwalk Transmissions’.
Luma / Non Luma
This is a song about feeling simultaneously present and completely absent in a moment. That feeling of absence upon hearing terrible news or refusing to address problems you know are getting worse under the surface. We chose it as our lead single as we wanted to come back with something surprising, and while there’s a lot of the WNLTL blueprint in this track it has manifested itself in a sound that’s quite different for us.
Wounds Like Wires
‘Wounds Like Wires’ is about digging up old traumas and bad memories, it hurts but the exploration helps remind you of the positives in how far you’ve come. Musically this is one of our heaviest over offerings. The middle 8 is just riff city and watching Gary [Marsden[ locked in to this is incredible!
This is a song for those who find a dark comfort in reminiscing in the negative. Based on a Philip K. Dick short story of the same name, It’s a rapid whirlwind of echoing self-doubt, exploring how memories can become twisted and distorted in time. This is one that Brett very tentatively brought to the group, but we all instantly loved it. It’s by far our most melodic song, but definitely has a WNLTL groove to it.
From The Sixth Floor
Written as a ‘Part B’ to ‘Retreat Syndrome’. it’s like the audible equivalent of coming up for air. A brief respite from intensity. This was written midway though our recording session, Seán and I drove back to Brighton and booked a room at Brighton Electric, and this track just fell out of us.
Meaning ‘The End’, ‘Owari’ explores the idea of the end of technology as we know it. It’s a dark, gloomy offering chock full of groove, melody and a post-apocalyptic crescendo that fits our band name to a tee. Other than ‘From The Sixth Floor’ this was the last track to be completed, and was finished almost as is from just one rehearsal.
Based on a recurring theme of Philip K Dick’s, this song explores that idea of questioning the meaning of reality and the validity of memories.
This was another old ‘Silently…’-era jam, which we revisited with some new ideas quite late on, woven together by Seán’s vivid imagery.
This song is about a longing desire to disconnect and to disappear off into your own head and let nobody else in. It’s based pretty accurately on an improvised jam we had on a particular dark and panic-attack stricken day for me and the mood of the song just totally fitted my own. The lyrics and melodies at the time just came out as they were without having pre-penned them.
‘The Sleepwalk Tranmissions’ is out on 10th May via Holy Roar Records and Through Love Records. Pre-order the album now.