Album Review: Tom Vek – Leisure Seizure

By on Thursday, 2nd June 2011 at 12:00 pm

There’s no denying it. In the digital music world, this instant gratification age, you have to be pretty full of yourself to go for 6 years without any new material, expecting to be welcomed back with open arms upon your return. As for bands that had massive time gaps between releases, Stone Roses did it, Radiohead did it. It is possible. But not just any act can come through lots of initial buzz with the hint of a comeback *and* a winning album. I’m happy to report that Tom Vek’s latest, the rhymingly-named ‘Leisure Seizure’, comes through with flying colours. In the May 18 issue of NME, Vek contended, “I always maintained that the next piece of news was that there was a new album. It’s necessary to be mysterious about your operations when they’re a mystery to you!” Is that ego, or is that humility? You be the judge by listening to this album.

By now through radio, ‘A Chore’ has probably assaulted your ears. I’ll be honest, I was not too keen on this track when it premiered on Zane Lowe’s show. The melody seems to plod along, and not very interestingly. Was I ever pleased when I got the full album and found there to be much, much greater gems to be mined from ‘Leisure Seizure’. ‘A Chore’ is just the tip of the iceberg. (Watch the video for the song here.) Tom Vek fanatics or people unfamiliar with ‘We Have Sound’: get ready. While this album might not grab you by the heart and the balls, it will certainly command your attention.

The album begins misleadingly mellow with ‘Hold Your Hand’, which slowly revs up with drum rolls and well-placed synth chords. Don’t be surprised if you’re shouting the song title with Vek and his backing singers after the third listen or so. From there, the album just gets better. ‘Aroused’ is a definite standout on the album, even if when you’re asked which track on the new Tom Vek is your favourite and you have to shout, ‘Aroused!’, don’t be embarrassed. With kettle drums beating a path to the islands, ‘Aroused’ is a foot-stompingly good time. If you’re into more melodic guitar with an industrial beat and a mechanical-sounding vocal (say you’re a Beck fan), ‘World of Doubt’ is for you (watch the video here).

‘A.P.O.L.O.G.Y.’, the latest in a line of songs of spelled out letters (take ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N’, Noah and the Whale’?) The chorus is like a toy store come to life, things going off, twinkling and sparkling. I may be showing signs of being a blog editor, but the instrumental jam portion near the last third of the song sounds like the chorus of Blonde Louis’s ‘If You See James…’ (have a listen to both and tell me what you think). By now, you’re probably thinking, where the heck are the dance tracks? ‘Someone Loves You’ comes to your rescue. Envision sweaty bodies bouncing off each other at his sold-out Manchester Ruby Lounge and London Heaven shows in 2 weeks. It’s going to happen. And after they have wiped their sweaty brows, they will probably sway their arms to ‘On a Plate’. In the terribly named ‘Too Bad’, electronic fireworks go off while an almost conga beat mesmerises you. Raise the roof!

The letdowns are in the form of songs that begin ever so promising but never quite get off the ground. Take for instance ‘We Do Nothing’ – Vek’s voice stretches up and down the scale but it ends up sounding more like a rap pulled over a passable backing track. There’s something about his voice, when not put with just the right instrumentation, he ends up sounding…creepy? I once considered that Two Door Cinema Club could make guitars talk. In ‘Seizemic’, Vek manages to make synths talk, as if they’re urging him on. And yes, this one is a little creepy to me too.

Similarly, I like where ‘You Need to Work Your Heart Out’ is trying to go, with its mechanised sultriness, but there seems to be an air of bitterness that I just can’t quite shake. (If someone can get a photo of him smiling and hugging a teddy bear, I think I could be cured of this. Just saying.) ‘Close Mic’ed’ isn’t as creepy for some reason, but maybe it’s because it has a much more relaxed vibe. While it’s not a completely “summer” record and I don’t see it being 100% accessible to the masses, this is an album that makes you think. Which is more than be said for 90% of the rubbish in the record shops these days. Have a listen to the album below, before it’s released on Monday (courtesy of the Hype Machine).


‘Leisure Seizure’ by Tom Vek will be released on 6 June.

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