Thanks in part to bassist Sonya Balchandani's howling rasp of a voice, Brooklyn's The Big Sleep has racked up Sonic Youth comparisons. One listen to "Ace"—the first single from The Big Sleep’s third album, Nature Experiments—and it's evident that the band has mastered the tonal fields of ’80s-‘90s alt-rock and given it a fresh spin. From analog synths ("Valentine") to looped guitar figures ("Ghosts in Bodies"), The Big Sleep plays majestic and spooky pop music. Despite the occasional rough terrain, there are hooks galore. Shoegaze elements float into a mesmerizing wall of sound during "Wood on the Water." "Red Carpet" throws more compelling keyboards atop a metronomic gait. "Ladders" kicks up a momentum worthy of Blonde Redhead. The Big Sleep is more versatile than many bands, able to capture My Bloody Valentine’s allure and punk rock’s aggression while adding its own carefully sculpted effects. A true highlight for 2012.