Picture this. I present to you a blank CD, I split it in two and begin adding ingredients to it while mystically waving my hands around the disc like it’s a crystal ball. I tell you we’re going to add ingredients to this disc and you look at me like I’m crazy! The first ingredient I add is high camp energy, the second is a dose of theatrical excellence and the third is a pinch of poignant lyricism. I glue the CD back together and plug in the one CD player left on the planet. What sound do you think we’d hear?

Realistically, there would just be silence and a mess all over the table, since that’s not how CDs are made.

However metaphorically speaking, you’d have the new album ‘Sleep’ by Daphne Guinness. The multi-talented film producer, actress, designer, turned musician has high ambitions with her fourth studio album and it’s fair to say, she shot my expectations out of the stratosphere like a disco ball from a catapult.

‘Sleep’, the 70s disco-inspired album by Daphne Guinness demands to be heard. The production on the record, which is a blend of nostalgic whimsy and crisp modernity, is seamless and for the most part has been crafted by Guinness herself, along with Malcolm Doherty. The most striking aspect of this record is the sense of urgency about it, there’s an atmosphere of frenzy and almost every track reflects this. You could absolutely hear a cinematic sounding masterpiece like ‘Solitaire’ being the soundtrack to a montage of a protagonist finally getting their revenge in the penultimate scene of an action movie.

The overall sound of ‘Sleep’ is similar to something you’d find in a late 80s Pet Shop Boys record and I mean that as a compliment in the highest regard. The intense strings that bounce around multiple tracks really compliment the wonderful theatrical energy on ‘Sleep’, which I can only assume was Guinness’ intention for the project as a whole. Another quality that the songstress possesses is her fascinating annunciation, I find the way in which she delivers lyrics so clearly quite refreshing, given the tired trend of artists mumble singing to match their overall aesthetic.

‘Sleep’ sets out Guinness’ ambition immediately with the brilliant opening track ‘Hip Neck Spine’, which I believe may intentionally or inadvertently interpolate Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’. Along with the opening track, there are multiple other standouts from the album that I sincerely hope make it to airplay, as they truly deserve recognition. I have to admit to being quite bewildered to discover the wonderfully infectious ‘Love & Destruction’ isn’t being pushed as a single, it has the perfect formula of a radio hit with niche lyrics, which set Guinness aside from some of the manufactured artists currently dominating the Top 40. Although it is undeniable that ‘Love & Destruction’ is my personal highlight of the album, ‘Burn’ and ‘Volcano’ are other standout moments that I fear may be eclipsed by bigger tracks like the hauntingly precious ‘Dark Night Of The Soul’. While we’re talking about the magnificence of ‘Dark Night Of The Soul’, it’s crucial for me to mention that in the moments where Guinness breaks into her iconic spoken-word style delivery, there’s a distinct resemblance to the genius Doris Day.

Penultimate track ‘Bedazzled’ is a phenomenal stroke of genius that switches up in structure more often than a politician, yet still somehow remains not only coherent but genuinely excellent. The tune reaches into the psychedelic realm further than any other on ‘Sleep’ and truly allows Guinness to flourish in an eccentric bubble that would likely burst if any other musician tried their hand at such a bizarre composition. Album closer ‘Time’ is a vulnerable addition to the record that allows it to flow to a natural conclusion and the song itself may have been drawn from the same vein as ABBA’s ‘The Winner Takes It All’, in terms of the angelic vocals, as well as sonically.

‘Sleep’ is a daring, thrilling collection of tracks that touch on the heavy subjects of love and loss, with undertones examining politics, pop culture and so much more. If you have a spare 40 minutes or so, bathe in the glory of Daphne Guinness’ new record ‘Sleep’.

You’ll find your soul urging you to dance while your mind studies some of the darkest and most intimate lyricism in popular music.

Daphne Guinness: Sleep – Out 21st June 2024 (Agent Anonyme Recordings)

Guinness – Volcano (Official Video) – YouTube