“No Man’s Land” by North Carolina’s the sleaves (yes, lower case) begins on an island in the dark; lead vocalist Andrew Ditlevson’s flat, low voice is clouded in a foggy isolation of a wonderful guitar lead inspired by emotive post-punk and grunge. Soon, however, we are greeted by female voices from an outside space, and this “no man’s land” becomes just that – the song is handed over to the women, leaving Ditlevson behind.
The song makes interesting use of the popular male/female vocalist trend, with the feminine chorus granting the song an ethereal aura that the darker, masculine verses fights back against. Yet, despite this opposition, the two very different parts somehow make for one cohesive whole. The song utilizes strings and even a glockenspiel to great effect, underscoring the chorus and providing a great contrast to the simpler, colder verses. This dark/light dynamic perfectly conveys a sense of longing, of hopelessness, of isolation. The chorus finds our narrator “wishing I could hold your hand,” and it’s at once haunting and beautiful. “No Man’s Land” is the tale of loneliness, and it communicates this universal theme with a unique and satisfying combination of dream pop and post-grunge.