Review on ‘Leonard’s Lair’

Faced with the promise of “theatrical electro-rock”, there might be worrying glances cast in the direction of Canada’s Double Eyelid. However, it’s a measure of the confidence and individualism of Ian Revell’s band that the result is some frequently thrilling music and the kind of record which provides a welcome shot in the arm for new goth and cold wave music.

‘Black Box’ is a markedly different way to open up an album. Using a bedrock of fretless bass, slinky, jazzy piano and shimmering synths, Ian Revell lures in the listener with his unusual vocals which seem to be informed by the suaveness of Bryan Ferry, the sophistication of David Sylvian and the angst of The The’s Matt Johnson. That alone is quite an achievement but this opening track and many others which follow it are delivered with real class. ‘Diamond Cutter’ features Revell and co. in their most commercial-friendly form; the key being the cold, stuttering rhythms and glammy guitars, which recall French act Colder in their most infectious form. As a frontman, Revell is certainly not one to hold back. One could accuse him of being overwrought for the excellent, lurching ‘She’s Falling’ but his OTT performance is perfectly suited to the wonderful ‘John’ which moves from quiet balladry to power chords with a great deal of confidence and style.

A less even second half is still full of invention and personality. Moving from the horrific imagery of ‘The Hanged Woman’ (“She rolled her eyes right back”), to a sparse yet complex ‘Dirty Weather’, checking in on the escalating tension of ‘The Stranger’ and ending with the sinister sonic experiment, ‘He Fell’, there’s a refreshing energy and dynamism to these songs. Indeed, there’s never a dull moment here and the frontman is a revelation.

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