At both theirs and ours, The Leisure Society have taken only the requisite amount of time since 2011’s mixed bag of reception, Into The Murky Water, to work on their next release. Laid down at Konk Studios, the recording ground belonging to Kinks frontman Ray Davies, Alone Aboard the Ark sees the double Ivor Novello nominated 5-piece land on new territories rich in synthesizers, Godly words and the Jolliest of Rogers. At all times elegant, occasionally brash and once in a while melancholic, these tracks depict the hallowed vessel as a veritable party boat, and are a successful experiment in remaining afloat whilst juggling a myriad of inventive sounds.
Constant from the start is respectful influences in religious music, right down to the presentation. “Another Sunday Pslam” justifies its name with the world’s most appropriate tambourine, with the feeling of a bustling bible building evoked ever more by the not-quite lost art of live recording. Its succeeding track “Softer Voice Takes Longer Hearing” uses wrung Hawaiian-esque chords to A) conjure up the image of Noah in a short sleeve Aloha shirt and B) provide a soothing current for lead vocalist Nick Hemming to float upon gently, with lyrics telling of one conducting another on how to conduct them self.
A most ambitious song is first single “Fight for Everyone”, blasting trumpets in anticipation for the band’s debut electronic sounds. Despite the former songs focus on doctrinal homage, its 2012 Olympic inspired call for internal betterment for a better society feels more secular, arguing that failure is no less a reward when a national audience runs alongside with you.
Where the record ultimately succeeds where its predecessor did not is both consistency and handling. Assurances that eccentric instrumentation back dropping a glum tone would not ruin the mood this time around came with early download track “The Sober Scent of Paper”. Whilst twee easily causes one to twitch, just the touch of it here is enough to suit and soothe without drowning the lovely.
This balance comes in handy further on when the band goes all out for the lengthy “We Go Together” (which meanders a little but to no great detriment), acapella it up with Mumford and Sons trumpeter Nick Etwell for the lounge-tastic “One Man and his Fug” or jam the accordion on “All I Have Seen” for the best gospel-inspired song south of Staffordshire.
Carrying on board the lyrical reliability of The Mountain Goats, folk-rock anchorage similar to Noah and The Whale and a two-fold orchestration all their own, The Leisure Society have rekindled the excitement of their debut The Sleeper with a release that isn’t fixed in its direction, but sails as a boat far from broken.
Release: 1st April 2013, Full Time Hobby