The Leisure Society - Alone Aboard The Ark (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
FOR their latest album, double Ivor Novello nominees The Leisure Society have taken their cues from, variously, Sylvia Plath and the London Olympics.
It was recorded on 2” tape and a 70s mixing desk in long-term fan Ray Davies’ Konk Studios in London and is as diverse and ambitious as the above elements make it sound.
The baroque pop sound remains intact in places but this is undoubtedly a broader sound too, which matches some breezy pop moments with quieter, more reflective ones.
The Olympics inspiration comes on former single Fight For Everyone (a highlight), which while celebrating British success, also considers those who also ‘had this spine-tingling roar of support, but could only ever be an also-ran’. It’s bright, breezy and celebratory… but with that compassion inherent in the inspiration behind it.
Another favourite, Everyone Understands, zips along with one of the brightest choruses on the LP but which delivers a set of lyrics that reflect on under-achievement, while Life Is A Cabriolet also thrives on its baroque pop elements and positive imagery (complete with some nice horn arrangements).
Evidence of the quieter side of the LP is to be found on another highlight, The Sober Scent of Paper, an elegiac waltz informed somewhat unconsciously by the demise of the poet, Sylvia Plath.
On One Man And His Fug, meanwhile, a likeable “ba da ba” intro gives rise to another ear-pleaser, rife with upbeat melodicism, and Nick Etwell’s (trumpeter to Mumford & Sons) brass lines.
While the electric guitar lines heard on The Last in A Long Line were the product of Christian and Mike’s two Gretches recorded playing at opposite ends of the studio, providing further evidence of the playfulness incorporated in the recording of the record.
There’s a lazy, late night (you could even call it drunk) vibe about the instrumentals on We Go Together, which catches your attention (“we smoked out last cigarettes and poured ourselves into bed” being a lyric to bear that suspicion out), which also comes in contrast to the likes of Forever Shall We Wait and its breezy acoustics and toe-tapping beats.
Put together, The Leisure Society have crafted another strong, eclectic and consistently enjoyable album.
Download picks: Fight For Everyone, Everyone Understands, One Man And His Fug, The Last In A Long Line