Album Review: Other Towns Than Ours by Last Leaves (2017) (Labels: Matinee Recordings / The Lost & Lonesome Recording Co.
Albert Einstein, he of mad hair, even madder eyes and (should have been) committed genius, is widely attributed as stating:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.
Accordingly, upon news that three quarters of The Lucksmiths were reforming working upon Marty Donald songs (the previous main songwriter) my initial excitement was tinged with trepidation.After all the only obvious personnel/musical changes were that Noah Symonds (ex-Great Earthquake) was replacing Tali White on drums and the already familiar voice of Donald was now the main vocals. Could things be different? Had their moment gone? Would anybody care this time around?
However, fears they would become a mere pastiche of former glories were spectacularly unfounded. Initially the opening track (Love and the World Well Lost, see below) introduces the new stick man with a pounding elongated solo that is immediately and obviously perverse to the previous indie-pop sound. It is plainly the Last Leaves way of signalling a new intent and purpose beyond The Lucksmiths and what better way to deliver it than by giving the only new man to the band centre stage.
Subsequently the album reveals itself to be a completely new sound in numerous ways. Initially the drumming on Love and the World Well Lost is typical of an altogether more muscular, but ultimately more melodic sound that utilizes all things subtle fuzz/distortion in tracks such as The Nights You Drove Me Home and the stand out track, The World We Had (see below). Such a level of fuzz woulkd have induced nose bleeds in their previous incarnation.
In fact the greater sense of melody is the paramount reason why this album not only exceeds but definitively excels, with all things that were previously cool indie/twee pop being replaced by tracks that are obviously of a jangle-pop style such as Something Falls Hinterland (to be included in our January 2018 ‘Jangle Jukebox’ playlist) and Other Rivers.
The lofty domains of perfection are just about avoided by virtue of the fact that the Last Leaves’ new sound has also incorporated the need to flex their mental muscles in a couple of completely downbeat tracks such as Where I lived and What I Loved For, where the mood is as long as the song title and a bridge too far is crossed for their previous fan base.
Overall though this album takes all the best things about The Lucksmiths, adds a fair bit of fuzz/distortion, lots of melody and plenty of extra. If you like it is their gym bunny more handsome cousin and how bad can that be?