on 1 April 2013
Nick Hemming has crafted another set of beautifully melodic, intriguingly lyrical songs. Lovingly produced by Christian Hardy at friend of the band Ray Davies' Konk Studio.
The instrumental flourishes and arrangements created by the band are wonderful and surprising, as we expect from a Leisure Society album. The lovely flute on the beautiful "Sober Scent of Paper", the horns and retro synth sound on first single "Fight for Everyone", the spooky 50s sci-fi opening to "Tearing the Arches Down", harmonica or is it harmonium on "Another Sunday Psalm", the opening catchy vocal "doo doos" and closing jazzy finish to the standout "All I have Seen".
This sounds like a band enjoying themselves, confident in the joy of making music and in their ability to do so, long may they continue.
I cannot wait to hear these tracks live. The snow is melting and the sound of summer is here!
I thoroughly enjoyed The Leisure Society's debut "The Sleeper", but the follow-up "Into The Murky Water" didn't quite hit the same heights, so this third album is a very welcome release indeed, as it is excellent. It's one of those albums that keeps the listener's interest throughout, doesn't contain any filler and has more than a handful of stand-out tracks that keep you coming back to the album again and again. It is actually quite difficult to categorise the type of music that The Leisure Society produce. I would hesitate to call it "pop" of any description because it's the type of music that, whilst it could easily make the playlist of a station like Radio 2, simply wouldn't trouble the singles chart. You couldn't call it "easy listening" either (although it is certainly very gentle on the ear) because it is miles away from the likes of Michael Buble (thankfully!). They remind me of Belle and Sebastian without the lofty tweeness, or, perhaps, The Beautiful South without the pithy lyrics. Some songs are reminiscent of Noah and the Whale's later material ("Fight For Everyone", for example), only much better, but their eclectic nature in terms of instrumentation and arrangements are one of their strengths and the fact that it is so difficult to categorise the music can only be a good thing.
Although this is an excellent album overall, my favourite tracks on "Alone Aboard The Ark" are plentiful. "Tearing The Arches Down" (although it reminds me a little of Queen's "Drowse") is absolutely superb, disjointed guitar solo and all, "All I Have Seen", is a dreamy little waltz-time gem, with a beautiful string section, a melody-line reminiscent of The Housemartins and a gorgeous climax to the track and "Everyone Understands" is a jaunty number that could easily have come from the pen of Neil Hannon. Echoes of The Divine Comedy can also be heard on the excellent "One Man and His Fug", a catchy baroque pop delight, the dramatic "Forever Shall We Wait", with a slight Latin lilt almost sounds like a piece from a musical and the wonderfully hazy "We Go Together" is a perfect end-of-the-evening anthem, complete with a lovely vocal theme to sing along to. Recorded in Konk studio in London, thanks to their friendship with Ray Davies, they have managed to release an album just as strong as their brilliant début which is beautifully arranged and performed, features Nick Hemming's wonderfully crafted songwriting throughout and is a rather pleasurable experience from start to finish. If the lyrics has just a little bit more of an edge to them, they'd probably become one of my favourite bands, but, quite honestly, they're rather good as they are and I'd recommend this one highly.
First released in 2013 this is the third album from The Leisure Society. Their first two albums (Sleeper and Into The Murky Water) were remarkable albums, crafted multi-layered tracks which seemed to use everything from tubas to the kitchen sink to get the right sound. They lodged in my mind and in my CD player. I am delighted to report that their third release is just as good.
The album has a gentler more reflective tone to it, but with the same production values. This ensures every track has just what is needed to make the maximum impact, and also means that you never know what is coming. One minute there is a gospel styling, the next a mariachi feel. The band are seemingly the master of all musical forms, and are so uninhibited in their use of anything and everything that they defy categorisation.
The end result is, importantly, an exciting and listenable album that grabs the attention of the listener and never lets go. It could have been a huge mess, but the band make it work. And seemingly effortlessly!
Also of note is the packaging. The band have released all their albums in superb packaging with real attention to detail on the art work. As a connoisseur of old vinyls, as much for the artwork as for the sound quality, I really appreciate this. The CD comes in a hardcover booklet, with 9 pages of lyrics, credits and art. Attention to detail on presentation as well as to the actual music, it makes all the difference to me!
5 stars for another high quality release from the Leisure Society
on 19 April 2013
On this, their third album, the Leisure Society explore a more diverse range of influences whilst never straying from the hooks and melodies that have become their calling card. The pastoral pop and folk-with-a-tune of their earlier albums is still here (and good thing too), but Alone Aboard the Arc also gives us a taste of soul with "All I Have Seen", whilst "Tearing the Arches Down" could have been spawned by the pen and plectrum of Carl Barat. The clever and intriguing lyrics that are so characteristic of the Leisure Society are in plentiful supply as always, and the end result of all of the above is an album that more than matches their back catalogue.
I recently went to see the Leisure Society supporting Beth Orton. No disrespect to a talented lady, but boy, did someone get that billing the wrong way round! This band are surely one big break / TV appearance / play list inclusion, away from being household names. Until that day I'll continue to be grateful that I'm one of the select (but growing) band who know of and cherish their work. Hear this album and spread the word!
on 20 April 2013
Oh Leisure Society, how great thou art!! Seriously, the songcraft displayed by this band is breathtaking at times. Superb lyrics, clever arrangements and beautiful, catchy songs. On first listen, I didn't find it as good as their previuos releases but as always, the beauty is in the detail. Repeated listens reveal the intricate detail and the songs worm their way into your head. Once they are there, you can't help but love them.
I played all The Leisure Society songs on my Ipod on shuffle and found several from this album (A Softer Voice..., Fight For Everyone, Tearing the Arches Down, Everyone Understands, We Go Together) standing proud amongst my previous faves.
Will this album catapult them into the alternative big league, not sure on that one. I hope so. It could all hinge on the choice of singles. Tearing the Arches Down has ring of The Shins to it. Maybe that could do it??
If you like melancholic, thoughtful, clever music, please buy this album. Give it several listens before judging.
on 1 April 2013
Fast becoming a national treasure to those in the know, The Leisure Society deliver once more. If you haven't yet discovered the band and are partial to beautiful, bittersweet songsmithery then do you ears a favour and buy this immediately. Yes they are that good and you will not be sorry :-)
on 7 November 2014
Superb, a delight from start to finish.The songs work their way into your consciousness and remain there.The lyrics are wry and ironic and refreshingly British.Many will find echoes of the halcyon days of Island records intheir work the constant ability to confound expectations their work ranks with the best of Arcade Fire,Decemberists,early Fairport et al.This may prove to be their most accessible,but every album is a joy in its own right,so get them all.
on 16 March 2016
The opening track, Another Sunday Psalm, is a decent reminder of what an affecting vocalist Nick Hemming is. And despite the appearance of my least favourite musical instrument, the harmonica, it exudes a certain dignity. An intriguing set of lyrics, they seem to hint at the lost love between the song writer and a girl who, in the absence of the anticipated union, expends her emotions 'Consoling every unpaid artist.' Whilst not stylistically similar to the Kinks, the reference to 'a lazy old sun' is a reminder that the album was recorded at Ray Davies' studio, Konk.
A Softer Voice Takes Longer Hearing is a dreamy and pleasant affair: 'Well there isn't much / That you couldn't do with the right approach' may not be a profound, poetic, or even truthful statement but it's certainly best to err on the side of optimism.
Fight For Everyone is trite to the point of stupidity. I'm referring specifically to the words: 'In order to get what you want done / You must fight for everyone,' which is clearly a ridiculous and contradictory statement. Overly sanitised and overproduced, it lacks the intimacy of their best stuff.
Tearing The Arches Down could well be an early Jeff Lynn composition. It's the Leisure Society doing Rock, but it's not anarchic and unrespectable enough to succeed on that level. Nevertheless it's likeable enough.
The Sober Scent of Paper, on the other hand, manages a successful balancing act between melancholia and joy. Although the precise significance of the song is lost on me, it has a definite lyrical quality. Perhaps it can be taken as an ode to the creative process in the face of mounting difficulties:
So sing while you can, while you're able
For sorrow may tap at the root of your song
Light sparks the opening bar
That's as far as I've got so far but I hope to listen to the rest of the tracks one day.
on 9 May 2013
I spent most of 2011 addicted to The Leisure Society's first album, The Sleeper, and was a tiny but disappointed by its follow-up Into The Murky Water. It was good but not great. However, this album is a total triumph. It has a lot more going on, musically, that previous albums, with Nick Hemming indulging in flourishes of electric guitar and effects pedals, and Christian having a lot of fun on his electric piano/organ. There is also a wonderful harmomic relationship between the fiddle and flute parts that shows how wonderfully clever their arrangements are. It's hard to work out who the influences are as they blend them so effortlessly, but there are hints of the Beatles (McCartney more than Lennon), the Byrds, and weirdly, on occasion the Wonder Stuff (and I mean that as a compliment). There is no filler, but the Sober Scent of Paper and All I have Seen are standouts for me. I saw them at the South Bank a few weeks ago and there were just wonderful. Full of joy and good vibes.
PS And you should totally download the EP Out of the Murky Water, not least for the beautiful dreamy instrumental "Weir Road".
on 16 May 2013
I've been evangelising about this band for a few years, and I can't understand why they haven't hit 'the big time' yet. I'm a big fan of the first album The Sleeper, and the enjoyable bonus CD it contains. I thought the second album, Into the Murky Water was a slight dip, but still very playable from start to finish. This third album is really interesting and I'm thoroughly enjoying it after about four plays. I appreciate the departures from the 'usual' TLS sound, and I don't agree with some of the reviews that criticize this move. I've read one or two reviews claiming it to be too 'pop''ish or 'Radio 2' oriented; which I think is really snobbish. For me Nick Hemming writes great melodies and this is not marred by some of the more modern instrumentation the album contains. I would recommend this to anyone who already likes TLS and is open to a band branching out rather than ploughing the same furrow. For anyone not familiar with the band I would Spotify it and see what you think.