Review: Hyber – “SleEP”

I recently sent a link of Salem based band Hyber’s debut EP SleEP to a loved one. He responded, saying “all five songs are incredible…so good it hurts…”

Those are words of such sincerity, we rarely see them ascribed to anything but music that makes us feel something deep and primal. That just happens to be exactly what Hyber’s music does anytime I, or this loved one listen to it.

After some well received shows in Salem earlier this year, Hyber burst onto the scene with their anthemic single “Ghost” and a crisply produced corresponding music video. Dropping a second single — “Feel” — Hyber gigged intermittently through the Salem, Lowell, and Boston scenes before, in mid-August, dropping the cleverly titled SleEP.

The record features both “Ghost” and “Feel,” but also expands the band’s sound into realms of acoustic and psychedelic rock, augmenting the clear grunge themes already central to Hyber’s identity.

Indeed, “Feel” kicks things off with a thick but clean bass intro. As the song kicks into gear, it establishes a melancholy cinematic mood with swelling dubbed instrumentals and a guitar riff transformed into pure sonic gold by ambient pedal work. As the high hats groove, the drums on this song remain ever so simple, bolting the track into a steady kick snare pattern.

Yet as with every single song on this record, the true beauty of “Feel” rests in its lyricism. “I wanna give you all of me/ but I come in separate pieces and require some assembly,” sings frontwoman Kris Musto. Her voice is deep and mournful, spitting such flawless wordplay and imagery as if it were effortless. As she settles into the desperate plea at the center of “Feel”, she cries “I just want to make you feel alive” such that she suggests those words were never even written, instead popping into existence as they left her mouth.

From there, the EP rolls into “Ghost” a song we at the Lowell Spin already reviewed as a single, but which still retains a unique grunge aesthetic even within the context of the ambient indie rock balled “Feel.”

After that, in turn, fades to silence though, Hyber serves a brief acoustic guitar introduction on “You Were.” The closest they come to a classic breakup song on this EP, Musto sings lyrics like “I would have done it all for you/ but I guess I blew that when you were mine” while the rest of her band establishes an interestingly intimate guitar/drum duo instrumental feel.

Finally, they then place their hardest and most aggressively dark songs as the last two tracks on their EP. “Good For Me” features growling guitar on its choruses. Consistent drums throughout also seem to draw heavy influence from the cymbal heavy grooves of Nirvana-era Dave Grohl.

“Funny,” meanwhile, is the true tearjerker of the EP, using a sharp syncopated drum pattern played on the snare rims to mirror the sense of unsteadiness about which Musto sings. Indeed, she croons, “It’s funny teaching yourself to remember to breath/ It’s funny feeling alive in this body” over another haunting yet simple guitar riff.

Altogether, SleEP is truly a gem of a debut EP.  But with not a single song cracking over 1000 Spotify plays in the month they’ve been out, I can say confidently that, local music fans are missing out. Take a listen Lowell, because in the words of SleEP’s first track, this will make you feel.

~Dakota Antelman