Updated: Aug 9, 2019
The Auckland five-piece Leisure truly makes music to move to. Following their accidental formation around five years ago, their combination of broad soundstages and sophisticated vibe has allowed them a great deal of recognition, including the viral popularity of the debut single 'Got it Bad', and charting eponymous debut record. Their psychedelic funk music is a disco-inspired throwback with tastes of modern styles and instrumentation, and the fresh album does nothing but groove. Entitled Twister, the 14 track collection mixes the hypnotising group vocal harmonies with an exquisitely crafted variation of genre-bending and production to create a never-ending funk-fest of fun.
Twister feels like a boozy Summer’s day, exploring themes of happiness, reflection and lust while maintaining an unbelievably laid-back vibe. It is music to dance, feel and live to, producing sounds that could only be described as the moody yet groovy lovechild of Daft Punk and The Neighbourhood. The album ceases to exist in one musical box, creating clever juxtapositions of dim-lit moods with smooth beat-driven style. These stylistic progressions are effortless and send you into a dizzy loop of despair and ecstasy all at once. Press play and strap yourself in for a track by track breakdown.
The first track, ‘Feeling Free’, meticulously sets up the funk that is to come. The ambience grows into anticipation and… BOOM… out comes a groove that makes you move. The bass line is both structured and fluid, creating a most dancable beat. The vocals are pefectly understated allowing for the synth-dominated tune to shine. The announcement-style vocal samples create hype as the song builds, thumps and marches.
Following on is ‘Too Much of a Good Thing’. The clean guitar and synth licks create an amazing electronic and funk influenced tune. The vocal diction pulses to the head-bopping beat a la Miike Snow, ending on an ambient whirlwind, the song is intricate, catchy and engaging.
Next up is ‘Man’, a track that emits a serious tropical, space feel. The atmospheric vocals match the laser synth sounds, creating an out-of-this-world, funk-techno sound. Featuring a fuzzy and sophisticated guitar solo, the song is carried by the quick ticking of the hi-hat hits. This leads into ‘The Hype’, a trip-like piece that leaves listeners drowning in sound. Giving off intense ‘Groove Is In The Heart’ vibes, the whirling ambience radiates a sense of euphoria. The chants become trance-like, leaving you quite literally ‘falling for the hype’. The doubled vocal and synth chorus melodies are enticing and effective, allowing the track to be more a sensory experience than just a song.
The album’s fifth tune, ‘Easy Way Out’, segways into the band’s darker side of writing and production. The song sounds like a foggier version of Parcels, and showcases some sweet and steamy guitar twangs. The juxtaposition between the droning synths and the lively strums is interesting and clever.
The next song is ‘Falling’, and this song is slower, grittier and way more sensual. The vocals caress the ears of listeners, accompanied by an unhurried, suggestive bass-line. The dark serenade feels like it belongs in a Baz Luhrmann meet-cute scene, with the ever-building synth ambience creating a sense grogginess, isolation and desire. Definitely one of those subtle highlights of a record.
‘Money’, the next track on the list, feels both happy and sad at the same time, drawing on light and dark musical tones. The song spins, with the panning synth establishing an extreme sense of disorientation. The soulful vocals in combination with the background humming is playful and carefree contrasting expertly with the more somber quality of the throbbing bass solo. The eighth track, ‘On My Mind', is a song you sway to. It is guitar-focused, starring minutes of bright and sharp plucks, with a background of hazy bass synth sounds. Then top it off with tight vocals and an infectious hook and you've got the soundtrack to a good night out.
’S.L.Y’ brings with it rich guitar bends and a crawling bass line. The song has a familiar tone that rings, and it feel almost as if we have been here before. It is homey and exciting, representing the lyric’s feelings of a new-found and perfect love. Its a testament to Leisure's adept command of electronic production and the ability to scour for unique loops and effects that elicit such specific emotions from listeners.
‘Ultra Violet Light’, the following track, has an oriental resonance, and feels like a holiday or a memory. The sliding pitch of the guitar is blurred and loving, creating a level of interest that is both intriguing, yet comfortable. Like looking back on a dream, the vocals float away to another place, pushing listeners to lose themselves in a world of relaxation and passion.
‘Tied Up’, features electronic vocal chops in an easy-going song that is brought to life by the urgency of the drums. The bass takes you on an up and down journey, carrying the soft, swivel movements of the tune. Horns enter, brining a fiery texture that works nicely with the twisting synth sounds. ‘Running’, the 12th track, has a jazz-style piano intro, making the song feel very neosoul. A keyboard sound shoots through, setting the song apart, instrumentally, from anything else we’ve heard. Horns again show up to the party, giving the song soul, which pairs nicely with the touch of classic-style backing vocals. The mix of the old and the new feels nostalgic, creating a clever likeness to the song’s themes.
‘Lovers Maze’ comes second last, and definitely not second least. It is slow and cool and shows off the band’s wah abilities. The song feels like a groovy, modern, boy band ballad, almost as if it should be accompanied by the excited screams of teenage girls. Finally comes ‘Alone Together’, a classy, entertaining and polished ending to a much enjoyed album. With a perfectly crafted vocal melody, the song is smooth and convincing. Again employing horns, it feels like a slow dance song, where young lovers catch each other’s eyes across the room at the end of a film. It flawlessly sums up the stylistic, instrumental and production elements scattered through the rest of the record.
All in all, this new Leisure record is pretty dang groovy. It is a showcase of the band’s development, revealing their talent and ability to deliver. Described by Leisure themselves as a “combination of the creative energies,” the large range of musical influences are clearly seen in Twister’s masterful mixes of classic and modern, and moody and hopeful. This collection of new is not to be overlooked, and fans and new listeners should be ready to be impressed.