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The Leisure Society - The Fine Art Of Hanging On (Album Review)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015 Written by James Ball

Picture the scene. You’re laying back in a peaceful country park somewhere, glass in one hand and book in the other. The sun scorches down upon you, but it’s fine because you’re wearing a hat and have a sensible level of sun cream applied. There’s a few clouds in the sky and they occasionally obscure the warmth, but this is late summer and you couldn’t be more content. In a matter of weeks, though, the sun will disappear for winter.

That, summed up in around 100 florid words, is the feeling you'll get when spinning ‘The Fine Art Of Hanging On’, the fourth album by The Leisure Society. It is a beautiful, intricate and exquisitely produced piece of work, poured from the complex mind of Nick Hemming and combining dark stories with ebullient compositions. Hemming has claimed that it is “not a direct concept album”, but the final track is, without question, about death and is signalled by an abrupt finish.

The opening couple of songs, by way of contrast, are filled with delicate plucking and whimsy, particularly during the titular opener. Things do get heavier on Outside In, but never do the band assume the full ‘rawk’ stance. At one point, during I’m a Setting Sun, it actually gets a little bit Status Quo, but you shouldn’t let that put you off.

There’s a melding of musical craftsmanship and Hemming’s verbosity throughout and the mixture results in something akin to a raspberry and cucumber smoothie: it shouldn’t work, but it is so, so good.

This is an album that represents the sum of its parts and should be judged as one 42-minute piece of art, not in segments. A release it recalls in its cohesion is ‘Rome’ by Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi, and the similarities don’t stop there. It's sometimes darker than the cupboard under the stairs, sometimes bright as that sun in the sky but never uneasy or unsettling.

This is an utterly essential recording that deserves the status that comes with being put together at two iconic studios: Konk and Abbey Road. Always meaningful, always passionate and imaginative, it might just be the perfect indie-folk-pop-rock conglomerate. If not, it’s very close.

The Leisure Society Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed April 15 2015 - LONDON Islington Assembly Hall
Thu April 16 2015 - CAMBRIDGE Junction
Fri April 17 2015 - BIRMINGHAM Rainbow Bar
Sat April 18 2015 - NOTTINGHAM Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Mon April 20 2015 - MANCHESTER Manchester Deaf Institute
Wed April 22 2015 - GLASGOW Oran Mor
Thu April 23 2015 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Cluny
Fri April 24 2015 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Sat April 25 2015 - NORWICH Arts Centre
Mon April 27 2015 - BRIGHTON Brighton Komedia

Click here to compare & buy The Leisure Society Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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