by Lydia Pudzianowski (@DoritosHangover)
The excellently named Portland three-piece Babehoven is the brainchild of Maya Bon, who wrote all the songs on their recent debut EP, Sleep, while living in Los Angeles. She recorded the demos on GarageBand and posted them on Bandcamp in June of last year. On the album’s well-deserved official release from Good Cheer Records, Bon is joined by bassist Skyler Pia and drummer Elias Williamson.
On first listen, Bon’s vocals are enough to convince you to buy whatever she’s selling, so it’s a bonus that the material on Sleep is on par with the voice that drew you in. Over the course of its five songs, the album showcases Bon’s impressive range, both in songwriting and performance.
The mid-tempo opener, “Sleep,” is a pitch-perfect account of what happens in the aftermath of a relationship, when you know better than to let your thoughts be consumed by someone unworthy but you let it happen anyway, because that’s just kind of how it goes: “Maybe I should know better, maybe I’m dumb / I think I should know better, I think I’m dumb.” And then, in the grand tradition of recovering from shitty breakups, Bon sings, “I should sleep all day long and buy some new swimsuits online.”
This is followed by the soaring first single “Out Of This Country” and the six-minute “LA” (i.e., Los Angeles), either of which could easily be the centerpiece of a full-length album. This one, though, is twenty minutes, and each second of those twenty minutes is worth your time. The songs on Sleep are allowed to grow, like “Bathtub,” which starts off quietly, with only Bon’s vocals and sparse guitar work. The drums come in halfway through, and Bon’s voice gains strength and rockets to the forefront. This breathing room gives the album a well-earned sense of grandeur and presence. It feels like a full-length, which is great, because you’ll want as much of Babehoven as you can get.
Sleep is a remarkably strong debut. Bon has done something truly special here. Her stellar material is bolstered but not overtaken by the addition of a full band; it’s still very much hers. This is genuine bedroom pop-rock at its finest and most relatable, and you’ll return to it often.