|The Leisure Society ↑ Alone Aboard The Ark (2013)|
The Leisure Society • Alone Aboard The Ark
≥ The twice Ivor Novello Award nominated The Leisure Society return with their stunning third album ‘Alone Aboard The Ark’. Contains the tracks ‘The Sober Scent of Paper’ and ‘Fight For Everyone’.
Location: Brighton ~ London, England, UK
Album release: April 1, 2013
Record Label: Full Time Hobby
01. Another Sunday Psalm 3:09
02. A Softer Voice Takes Longer Hearing 4:45
03. Fight For Everyone 3:48
04. Tearing The Arches Down 3:02
05. The Sober Scent Of Paper 3:37
06. All I Have Seen 4:33
07. Everyone Understands 3:06
08. Life Is A Cabriolet 2:27
09. One Man And His Fug 3:38
10. Forever Shall We Wait 3:16
11. We Go Together 6:28
12. The Last In A Long Line 2:26
• Nick Hemming
• Christian Hardy
• Mike Siddell
• William Calderbank
• Helen Whitaker
• Sebastian Hankins
• Darren Bonehill
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≥ The Leisure Society — Alone Aboard The Ark (April 16, Full Time Hobby) — Third album from eclectic English “Baroque pop” collective that’s been described by The Independent as “a uniquely British take on Americana” and “fragile, beautifully orchestrated and restrained” by The Guardian...New project was recorded at KONK studios in London, owned by former Kink legend (and Leisure Society Fan) Ray Davies...The band has been twice nominated for the prestigious Ivor Norvello award...Fine waltzing lead track “The Sober Scent of Paper” came out, in part, from some mental imagery of the tortured poet Sylvia Plath by songwriter Nick Hemming: “For some reason, the first line “Chains dredge the great lake around you / Pull you along by the knots in your hair made me think of her. I guess it’s quite a dark desolate image”...“Fight For Everyone” (stream after the jump) lightens the mood with a sharp rhythmic snap and some bright brass lines for embellishment...
≥ Le nouvel album de ce groupe anglais a un petit côté rétro extrêmement plaisant. Des mélodies pop enjouées avec de subtils arrangements. Le fait que le tout ait été enregistré dans le studio de Ray Davies y est sûrement pour quelque chose. Recommandé!
By John Murphy | 28 March 2013 | Editor rating: ****
≥ The Leisure Society have some famous fans. Guy Garvey named their Ivor Novello award~winning Last Of The Melting Snow his favourite song of 2008. Ray Davies invited them to record Alone Aboard The Ark, their third album, in his Konk studio in North London. And, perhaps most famously, film director Shane Meadows used to be in a band with Leisure Society leader Nick Hemming, and asked Hemming to score two of his films.
≥ Despite the high profile nature of their support though, The Leisure Society have managed to remain pretty much below the radar. But Alone Aboard The Ark, while remaining unabashedly low~key, seems to embrace a more commercial sound, expanding on their more folky origins to create some gorgeously well~crafted chamber~pop music. There are nods galore to Belle & Sebastian and early Noah And The Whale, but this is the Leisure Society album where Hemming’s vision shines most successfully.
≥ Another Sunday Psalm is an upbeat opener, sunnily strummed guitar and the more wistful, woodwind-enhanced A Softer Voice Takes Louder Hearing both make for a easy introduction to the album. Yet as the album progresses, the arrangements become more lavish and, at times, quite beautiful. The sombre waltz of The Sober Scent Of Paper (inspired by Sylvia Plath’s suicide) is a definite standout, but that’s followed by the gloriously lush All I Have Seen which, with its choir of backing vocals, string section and incongruous guitar solo, really shouldn’t work, but does so beautifully.
≥ Fight For Everyone is Hemming’s stab at synth~pop, layering six different keyboard riffs over each other, and using the Olympics as its lyrical inspiration. In truth, it’s one of the few moments on the album which falls just on the wrong side of twee, but it’s still perfectly listenable. More successful is We Go Together, which utilises jazzy trumpets and barely brushed drums to create a pleasingly bittersweet ballad.
≥ Hemming’s voice brings to mind names like George Harrison, John Darnielle and, at times, Conor O’Brien of Villagers. Yet for once, you never get the impression that The Leisure Society is Hemming’s own personal pet project. The fact that the album was mostly recorded live gives the whole band a chance to shine, with Hemmings’ co~writer Christian Hardy’s keyboards and the flute work of Helen Whitaker sounding particularly effective.
≥ It’s impossible to pin down Alone Aboard The Ark stylistically, bouncing as it does from fuzzy guitar rock on Tearing Down The Arches to the horn~laden feel~good pop of Life Is A Cabriolet. It does mean that some of the poignancy of the band’s earlier work is missing, but it does make for a more consistent album. An album that could just see Hemming and company add some more fans in addition to their celebrity admirers.
• The Sleeper (2009)
• Into The Murky Water (2011) (UK chart peak #75)
• Alone Aboard the Ark (2013)
by Thomas Blake on 25 February, 2013 (http://www.folkradio.co.uk)
≥ The Leisure Society backstory has some clout: mainman Nick Hemming was once in a band with Britflick luminaries Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine, and later was responsible for the music in two of their films. More recently the band has been nominated for an Ivor Novello award (twice, no less), asked by Mojo to contribute to a collection of Beatles covers (their ‘Something’ was a highlight) and, most impressively, courted for collaboration by King Kink himself, Ray Davies.
≥ For their new album, Alone Aboard The Ark, the Leisure Society have called in the Davies favour, utilising his well~equipped Konk recording studio. This may account in part for the warmth of the songs on this record. The use of vintage instruments gives each track a ‘period piece’ feel, and if at times the band seem not quite sure about which period they are trying to evoke, this is not necessarily a bad thing. The way the musicians feel their way into each song is reminiscent of The Band, although the end product is utterly distinct, due in part to the range of instruments and production techniques on show.
≥ ‘A Softer Voice Takes Longer Hearing’, for example, is all retro reverb, with a Belle and Sebastian~style woodwind section in the middle. Opener ‘Another Sunday Psalm’ has a jaunty, almost Donovan~esque lilt. On ‘Tearing The Arches Down’ and ‘All I Have Seen’ the surprise of electric guitars and (on the former) the vocal production sees the band veer unintentionally close to Sparks or Queen territory (particularly early Brian May material!) but without the weirdness or the techy~ness.
≥ Where this album succeeds is in the songcraft of Hemming and Christian Hardy. ‘One Man And His Fug’ harks back to Hemming’s Britpop roots — it is the kind of tune that could have been a hit in the more innocent days of 1995. ‘Forever Shall We Wait’ goes along at a good shuffle. The real high points, though, are the restrained, lyrically mature ‘The Sober Scent Of Paper’, and ‘We Go Together’, a bittersweet tale resting on a feather bed of strings and subtle, jazzy horns.
≥ Alone Aboard The Ark is the sound of a band growing up, the sound of a band who can write an intelligent pop song at the drop of a hat, and the sound of a band emerging from the shadow of famous friends and illustrious pasts.
|The Leisure Society ↑ Alone Aboard The Ark (2013)|