The Leisure Society's third album is a quintessential curate's egg, with plenty of earnest folk-rock strummage, and a few brilliant highlights distracting from several songs as weak as their punning titles, notably “Life Is a Cabriolet” and “One Man and His Fug”.
The single “Fight for Everyone” overdoes the chumminess, with chipper guitar and warm horns supporting its contention that “you just need fire and a little faith”, but elsewhere Nick Hemming's lyrical eye is more profitably applied to subjects like Sylvia Plath in “The Sober Scent of Paper”, and “A Softer Voice Takes Longer Hearing”. Best of all is “We Go Together”, a touching celebration of enduring love strongly reminiscent of the work of Pete Atkin and Clive James.
There's a slight widening of the musical palette at work here. Subtle electronics are employed on the skipping melodic lilt of 'Fight For Everyone', further enlivened by jaunty horns and handclaps. Elsewhere, there are rockier crunching guitars ('Tearing The Arches Down') and jazzy inflections on the curious 'Life Is A Cabriolet'.
As has become customary for The Leisure Society, Hemming's lyrics and gift for storytelling once again stand out, his wonderful couplets and warm voice helping to lift many of the weaker moments here above torpor. He is quite the wordsmith, the best evidence of this found in 'Tearing The Arches Down''s description of a mysterious elusive character, "the boy with the bloodshot eyes, a legend in your lunchtime." A glimpse at the tracklisting with song titles like 'One Man And His Fug', shows his way with a memorable line.
As it progresses, however, the lyrical erudition and quaint ebullience is dragged down as more and more instruments combine to make a grandiose, slightly overwrought crescendo. The string-filled climax of 'All I Have Seen' veers perilously close to the theatrical. Far better is the graceful, quite lovely waltz of penultimate track 'We Go Together', six minutes of sashaying beauty fully emphasising everything heart warming and good about The Leisure Society at their best.
The Leisure Society in Deutschland:
02.05.13 Frankfurt, Brotfabrik
03.05.13 Berlin, Lido