Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Album Review: The Leers - Are You Curious? (2016)

After a couple of EPs and a number of singles since relocating to Auckland from Mount Maunganui five years back, talented four-piece The Leers have come up with something rather special with Are You Curious?, the band’s full-length debut. From the first few bars of the psych-rock opener 'Does This Speak To You?', it’s immediately apparent that these guys mean business; it’s not really a question, it’s more a statement of intent – this is going to be big, bold, and ballsy. Exactly the sort of thing a band needs in order to make the often difficult transition from low key student radio exposure to wider-reaching crossover success. It may have taken a few years to get here, but The Leers’ debut arrives fully formed and full of swagger. A lot of that is surely down to the sumptuous production of Sven Petterson (The Checks) and the work of engineer Ben Lawson, out of the Red Bull Studios, but it’s also down to the simple fact that these are quality tunes. There’s ten of them, plus a mid-album interlude ('Escapades') and a brief finale ('Outro'), each one offering up something slightly different, with the unrepentant pop hooks found on the likes of 'Fool' and 'Easy Love' leaving the biggest impression. Vocalist Matt Bidois carries these songs well. His voice booms at times, yet he’s just as capable of subtle shifts to reveal a more fragile hue when required. The rhythm duo are tight, the guitar playing of James Kippenberger is uncompromising and frequently a stand-out, but perhaps best thing about this album is that it’s completely devoid of any filler whatsoever. On this form, The Leers could turn out to be quite big. Stadium-sized, even.
This review originally appeared in the April/May 2016 edition of NZ Musician magazine: http://www.nzmusician.com/2016/05/11/the-leers-curious/

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