This semester at uni I’m studying Arts and Entertainment reporting, basically a cop out to pass a module that I’ve been able to do since I started. One task today was to write a timed review of a few tracks by The Leisure Society, and I wouldn’t normally post uni work on here but I actually liked this review that I wrote for a change.
Learning that lead lyricist Nick Hemming produced musical scores for the films Dead Man’s Shoes and A Room For Romeo Brass by Shane Meadows is not unsurprising when you listen to The Leisure Society. The songs on this 3-track single retain an atmospheric elegance that wouldn’t be out of place on any movie soundtrack, and has led them to able to count veteran DJs Stuart Maconie and Mark Radcliffe as fans, alongside Guy Garvey of Elbow, a band that are not dissimilar to The Leisure Society.
Having already suffered a tumultuous musical career in the past decade (Hemmings can count forming a band with actor Paddy Considine and director Shane Meadows as one of his achievements and a gig with Blur) upon meeting fellow band member Christian Hardy, the pair, with fellow band members Darren Bonehill, Sebastian Hankins, Michael Siddell and Helen Whitaker, the band have worked to encapsulate a sound that is quintessentially theirs.
Lead track Into The Murky Water flows in with an array of strings that work in harmony with the vocals, all powered by a beat that is somewhat reminiscent of the Jungle Book. There are vocal acrobatics to rival any pop diva, and the somewhat simplistic sounding arrangements of the instruments add a sense of naivety to track.
The Phantom Life follows swiftly after, bringing a deceptively gentle opening only to be quickly demolished by thunderous drums. There are similarly sing-along melodies to that of Into The Murky Water, that are patched alongside a sound that can only really be described as epic pop.
With an album already under their belt in 2009’s The Sleeper, it would be too easy for the band to settle into the one sound. Third track The Last Of The Melting Snow is much slower and lilting track compared to previous upbeat numbers. The gentle accompaniment is almost music box-like in its quality, the use of non-typical pop music instruments like flutes and strings bring a quality that is missing from most popular music.
There is a simplistic elegance to sound of The Leisure Society, one that perhaps belittles the arrangements and layers of instruments here, all the while not losing the crucial, and often melancholic, vocals. Alongside contempories Wild Beasts, they are taking back the sheer power of vocal acrobatics from pop divas.