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NZ five-piece LEISURE announced their arrival on our shores in 2015 with the killer blues-tinged single Got It Bad and now they’ve followed it up with a 12-track debut, self-titled album. Their first single was a glimpse of what these guys were capable of, with a funk-driven beat and some gorgeous R&B style harmonies – so it’s little surprise that the rest of the record is choc full of more of the same.
That’s not to say that this record is repetitive in any way, quite the opposite in fact – with LEISURE exploring the deep and far-reaching realms of psych-rock, R&B, funk, blues, soul and more. There are just as many upbeat grooves as there are laid-back jams – with those silky smooth harmonies one of the key ways that they bring it all together track after track.
Though they do explore a variety of genres, each track, in fact, combines aspects of many styles. All Over You is definitely one of their slower tracks, which allows the band to really explore how deep they can take the gritty bass riff that the tune is built around. The space around the riff allows the band to create an echoey timbre, complimented by almost-impossibly suave vocals. The track then features a killer outro in the form of a psych-driven guitar solo, an unexpected but no less captivating way to end.
LEISURE are similarly adept at exploring generic conventions through more upbeat track Take It To The Top. The bass and guitar are paired more closely on this one, and that driving riff simply drips with effortless cool. The vocals and various instrumental lines on this one, as on a number of tracks, give off a definite Tame Impala type vibe (Know You Better does the same), and the higher-pitched synths give off quite woozy and trippy psych vibes.
The overarching feeling throughout all this exploration of technique and genre is one of tightness, and it’s clear that each track on this LP is meticulously EQ’d, with each interplay between vocals and instruments feeling quite deliberate. The complexity and density of textures and soundscapes in songs like Something About You would see other bands struggle to convey a sense of purpose and organisation, an issue that doesn’t seem to affect LEISURE at all.
There are so many standout tracks here that it becomes difficult to call out the highlights, but Deeper has to be considered for pretty much being just a single vocal line with keyboard accompaniment – yet it remains just as captivating as the rest of the album. Your Love is another major key to success on this album, combining what is essentially a full-length three-minute song in the first section with a gorgeous instrumental driven refrain at the end.
LEISURE’s self-titled debut album is, first, proof that their huge hit last year wasn’t a fluke, secondly that there may be room for another group in the sound spectrum that Tame Impala is currently dominating, and finally that LEISURE have undoubtedly crafted one of the best albums to come out of New Zealand this year.