Review of Into The Murky Water Album by The Leisure Society

'Into The Murky Water' is the second album from melodious harmonising duo (Ostensibly) The Leisure Society. It follows up, without really moving on from, their very well received debut album from 2009, 'The Sleeper'. If you liked that, and your tastes haven't changed in the ensuing two years, you'll like this. Nick Hemmings and Christian Hardy have clearly hit on a winning formula and obviously see no real need to change or develop, rather they appear content to further explore that which bore them a degree of commercial and critical success the first time around.

The album titled opener is generously drenched in conservatory strings, playful horns and glockenspiel cameos. It's Neil Hannon's Divine Comedy meets the All Seeing Eye where plinking pop meets Piorot, spats and flapper dresses. The 20's and 30's musical themes crop up throughout with the lavish orchestrated arrangements helping to build on the folk infused Chamber-Pop.

The album is at times rather disconcerting as the musical soundscape is very often juxtaposed with that of its lyrical content. The skipping beats of 'Dust On The Dance Floor' trick your sensibilities by seemingly conjuring up images of happiness whilst telling a contemplative tale of regret... "Reflecting now his life is where he sits, An epitaph falls flat between dry lips. What a great day for demise. What a long road I have walked just to die, to fall apart the way people do." More sombre anecdotal references on relationships clutching to the threads of romanticism are dealt with on the stripped back and acoustic 'Our Hearts Burn Like Damp Matches' before the tempo returns for 'You Could Keep Me Talking'.

The Leisure Society Into The Murky Water Album

'Although We Are Lost' sees the boys return to the Folk fayre they were so carefully gestated in. The gentle amble of the layered harmonies, flutes and violins are all fit for a evening recital on a barmy summers eve in the Orangery. 'This Phantom Life' delivers up some cynical wisdom ...."If we only knew the answers we could print 'em on t-shirts, we could sing for revolution, we could fight all wars and win them" and at last you hear a guitar strummed in, well...........not exactly in anger but as forceful as you feel Nick and Chris are prepared to go. More warm melodies ensue on the softly sentimental nostalgia of the McCartney lacking Lennon like 'The Hungry Years'.

Towards the end The Leisure Society do take a considered turn on the banjo enhanced 'Better Written Off (Than written Down)' The Country lilt is a refreshing change from all the strings. The more organic earthy arrangement exposes the horns and seize upon the songs musical theatre elements. Sadly the final tune, 'Just Like The Knife', doesn't continue the theme. Although its beginnings may start with a sinister side they end with a drowsy dullness.

Into The Murky Water certainly left me hazy. The slightly mesmeric, hypnotic swathes of sound that wash over you have an ebb and flow of minute ripples as opposed to waves. The music definitely has a delicate caress not a startling immediacy and you are left feeling lightly sedated. Listen to the album in its entirety and you may feel like you've just swallowed Randle McMurphy or Susanna Kaysen's meds by mistake as it leaves you in a suspended and disassociated state of tranquillised consciousness. If you want to chill out and really lose yourself for a while look no further for the perfect soundtrack.

Andrew Lockwood.

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