A word of warning to anyone in middle brow folk collectives. Never go out with your flautist. This is what happened to the Leisure Society's Nick Hemming and following their split he was unceremoniously turfed out of his Brighton home. This upheaval all feeds in to their fifth album which marks ten years since they debut single 'Last of the Melting Snow' which was, if you remember a quite wondrous thing.
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It's bad enough going through a break up but imagine the situation where the singer/guitarist of a middle brow folk collective is going through a break through up with the flautist. Evil looks across the rehearsal room at literally every piece of flute. Anyway there's not much flute on this new album from the Leisure Society but singer Nick Hemmings might well have used his break up to concoct his best batch of songs in some time. The Leisure Society have journeyed far and not always better from their stellar debut the Sleeper but delve deep into this double album and the pleasures are many.
It's like he's pouring everything out. You get plenty of tight and taut folk rockers - A Bird, A Bee Humanity in particular is a great thing indeed - a kind of Fairport Convention influenced slab of mid paced balladry with a clever ascending chorus. Overheard heads back to the sound of their debut in that it is truly lovely. I'm not sure what Hemmings is doing to his voice because on tracks like I'll Pay For It Now it's rather nasal and shrill but on Overheard it's lovely and soft - more like Badly Drawn Boy's early voice I suppose and it's a cushion on my ears.
I feel sort of tight offering it only a 7 but it's a classic double album in that it has plenty of, if not filler, then tracks that aren't as affecting as others. There are occasions where Hemmings nails it and one of them is the utterly mesmerising Arundel Tomb. This is a lovely piece of fingerpicked folk with beautiful orchestration. It reminds me of the tracks such as The Last of the Melting Snow which made me fall in love with them all those years ago. There's enough here to re-ignite my interest in the band and I'd urge you you to do the same. There's a lot to wade through but I'm sure that - like me - you'll have forgotten how good they can sound.
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