Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so goes the old adage. Sentiment grows. Love becomes lorn. But sometimes, you heal, you forget. Now, maybe that’s a bit soppy for Tom Vek - a young man who, by all intents and purposes, gained cultish notoriety for a single album, We Have Sound – an album which cemented him as one of a rare breed of talented, electronically-enthused multi-instrumentalists. Bearing in mind its release came back in the yore of 2005, this was a feat that did not go unnoticed. But, as if reminiscent of our current musical factory climate, he then seemed to vanish from the earth completely, leaving only the one unbuffed jewel for those to remember him by. And so it goes – 5 long years, and the wilderness evaporated, leaving a newly finely tuned Mr. Vek to once again put his esoteric stamp on the musical world. No starting from scratch – we had all waited for such a return to be a breath of fresh air more than any money spinning exercise and were even happier to see someone like Mr. Vek take the reins.
As the opening stabbed organs of ‘Hold Your Hand’ introduce the album, it seems that Vek hasn’t so much twisted his somehow like-the-back-of-your-hand methods so much as honed them – allowed them to ferment over this self-enforced hiatus. His dulled drawl complimented by thinning twists of guitars and surprisingly large basslines throughout before breaking down into an emotional cry of the song’s title demonstrate that the passion is, quite clearly, not lost. It’s then left to ‘Aroused’ to prove his emphatic point – it’s the album’s immediate highlight with a brilliantly garage-like smash of drums and distorted guitars all complimented by Vek’s (rarely *ahem*) unforgiving vocal, driving the chorus to an almost anthemic climax. Single ‘A Chore’ then permeates with it’s infectious 90s synth before breaking into a wall of deep, drop-tuned guitars before ‘We Do Nothing’ shows, again, how Vek can display his nostalgic influences in infectious ways, aiding his swimming tunes through a picturesque abyss of instrumentation and hooks.
While it all sounds pretty rosy from this encouraging beginning, what becomes pretty clear with ‘Leisure Seizure’ is just how formulaic the process Vek works with is, as well as just how puckered with leaky holes it is because of that simplicity. That’s not to say that his insular, eccentric samples aren’t pleasing to the ear at points (and very potently so, as mentioned), but just as with his first album, the word ‘filler’ becomes unfortunately applicable. Maybe that goes without saying considering the random swell that has filled The Chasm of Hype since the announcement of his return, but when dischordant, atonal messes like ‘World of Doubt’ are scattered in amongst the ying and yang, it makes you wonder how and why this all came about. If there was real time to hone everything that made Tom Vek great, then breaks-baiters like the tedious ‘A.P.O.L.O.G.Y’ wouldn’t have occurred – you’d have an album full of ‘A Chore’. Maybe thematically it’s a good kick-up the arse having that somewhat imbalance of style, but it feels rushed – like it has been copied from a computer screen to paper by a hungover 6th former and handed in to a sympathetic teacher with a somehow unnoticed ringmark from a beer can on it.
It’s this latter half of the album that feels incredibly phoned-in. The rough-around-the-edges sounds of ‘Someone Loves You’, should they have been balanced by a tune of relative complexity akin to ‘Aroused’ or ‘We Do Nothing;’, could work so perfectly, and make Leisure Seizure an album of impossible-to-resist churlish charm. Of course, part of that is his charm, his ‘raison d’être’. No-one can doubt Vek’s purity, and it’s not as if his sound has even dated. Vek was always admired for taking diverse twists of influence, but as with before has just gone that little bit too far, leaving potentially a bitter taste for those who have waited for so long. Third time lucky in five years time, let’s hope.