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"The Sleeper"

The Leisure Society – The Sleeper
23 March 2009, 10:00 Written by Lauren Down
the-leisure-society-sleeperWith musicians drawn from the never-ending pool of talent that is the Brighton-based Willkommen Collective, The Leisure Society's debut album is as beautifully crafted, disarming and as folk-drenched as anyone could hope for. Hailing from Burton-On-Trent, Nick Hemming and Christian Hardy are the creative force behind a band that has frequently been referred to as England's answer to Fleet Foxes. And whilst their individual sound is undeniably steeped in the traditions of wispy American acoustic folk, common comparisons Fleet Foxes can seem somewhat glib. The Leisure Society's sound is far more crisp, clean and the often nostalgic ambience seems intrinsically inspired by experiences of the English countryside.The Sleeper offers up striking instrumental soundscapes, comprising of no less than double bass, cello, glockenspiel, maracas, drums, ukulele, mandolin and most notably violinist Mike Siddell who previously played with Hope Of The States. Songs such as 'Come To Your Senses' and 'A Short Weekend Begins With Longing' have a certain pastoral sound without resorting to cliché, as the ukulele-laced melody and jittering rhythm are intertwined with the gentle glistening of a the violin strings. The dramatic flute-led ending leads perfectly into the teetering guitar strums of 'We Were Wasted.' It seems almost as though Nick and Christian are about to sit us down around a camp-fire and regale us with mythical folk tales. Hemming's soft and drowsy vocals rise and fall, heavily laden with emotion whilst telling the unlikely tale of drunkenly driving home from a nightclub. Going out for a night on the town with your mates is hardly an original narrative, in fact you could be forgiven for writing it off as banal. However The Leisure Society treat it with such careful delicacy and heart that this song is hugely compelling; the minor falls and the major lifts are happily catchy, and certainly far from banal.There is almost a springtime atmosphere brought to bear on this record, as the joyful, hopping melody of songs like 'Save It For Someone Who Cares' disguise a slightly darker nuance to the lyrics, turning the song both comic and sombre. An impression that continues into 'The Darkest Place I Know' as the cheery lone glockenspiel opens before being accompanied by the layered and multiple vocals that result in a sort of haunting chant. The sublime, string-filled debut single 'The Last of the Melting Snow' is undeniably one of the most stunning tracks on the album. Having been described as "absolutely heavenly" by Mark Radcliffe and "utterly beguiling" by Lauren Laverne there are few adequate superlatives left for me to describe this beautifully frail slice of acoustic folk.The Sleeper is a gripping album, as Nick and Christian's swinging rhythms and intensely up-lifting folk melodies are humorous and deeply heart-felt. The endearing passion and honest of the gently lilting debut effort is just as evident as the sheer talent of those involved, as The Leisure Society take you on an awe-inspiring musical adventure in which I find a different album favourite with every listen. 85%mp3:> The Leisure Society: ‘We Were Wasted’ [TLOBF Exclusive] mp3:>Â The Leisure Society: ‘Come To Your Senses’The Leisure Society on MySpace
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