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Album Review: The Leisure Society – The Fine Art of Hanging On

2 min read

Despite being grounded in the language of death and mortality, The Leisure Society’s The Fine Art of Hanging On is ultimately a touching tribute to life itself. It’s a dark, yet oddly upbeat listen, guaranteed to move in surprising, authentic ways. There won’t be many dry eyes left in the house when this one has finished doing its rounds.

The Leisure Society - The Fine Art of Hanging OnThe record does get off to a shaky start:  album opener and titular track The Fine Art of Hanging On is a little too twee, and the pounding chorus feels overly reminiscent of Mumford and Sons’ rollicking sound, not to mention the indie-core strains of Noah and The Whale. But the song represents the only real misstep of the album: from thereon in, things immediately and definitively start to improve.

Nothing Like This is a solid, self-assured little number: it’s perhaps the album’s most tonally simplistic track, but it’s fun nonetheless. That said, the album’s real treats are born from lead singer Nick Hemming’s solid control of emotional contrasts. He knows the exact power of his sweet, angelic voice – it’s most powerful on The Undefeated Ego – and he knows how effective it can be when paired with melancholy and darkness. Songs like Tall Black Cabins beautifully and memorably combine a baroque style with an unpretentious, unashamed take on the pains that come hand in hand with mortality.

The album’s string arrangements have been impeccably produced, and help further flesh out the record’s tonal disparities. I’m A Setting Sun layers old fashioned rock and roll with lush, nostalgic strings to great effect; it’s a dense, intelligent number and one of the album’s many highlights.

Despite how many of the songs drip with emotion, All Is Now and album closer As The Shadows Form are the real tear-jerkers. Both harken back to the bands’ back catalogue, particularly a song like We Were Wasted: if The Leisure Society have a definitive ‘sound’ then this is it. Of the two, As The Shadows Form is particularly moving, even in its relative brevity: it’s only two minutes and thirty three seconds long, but every single note rings home. It’s an incredible way to finish off the album; a heartfelt, sincere meditation on death that makes the heart swell and the mind simplify in glorious ways. As album closers go, it’s a good ‘un.

By embracing the darkest of themes with the lightest of hearts, The Leisure Society have created an album that is at once lofty and yet touching in its humility. It’s another emotive, sincere record, produced by a collective of musicians at the top of their game.