There is no doubting that Saint Leonard has a style, this latest release harks back to his early oeuvre all those years ago before being saddled (sic) with sainthood. Nowadays, Saint Leonard is without the Horses, the band that backed him for his second album, but still has assembled a group of musicians that complement the singer’s abstract world view: Maxim ‘Panda’ Barron from London shoegazers TOY, former Klaxons’ drummer Steff Halperin and from The Horrors, Josh Hayward. This new menagerie have a sound which harks back to his earlier releases from his ‘Out of Work Astronaut’ era, especially reminiscent of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ – Leonard’s 15 minute opus detailing the tragic romance between man, the cosmos and its potential corporate led decline (find it on YouTube – it’s fabulous). A tinge of extra psychedelia à la Sgt Pepper has been added in response to Leonard’s spiritual journey to North India and meditation in the Kasar Devi Temple and realised brilliantly by the new line up. It sounds like the love child of Leonard Cohen and Ravi Shankar, if you like Tom Odell and James Bay, this is what they would sound like if they’d gone on a bender in Yorkshire and woken up in the Mojave desert by way of Hollywood, consumed a tanker’s worth of mezcal and Jamesons, then got their shit together, gone on a pilgrimage and shacked up with some awesome musicians.
In short, this is the real deal.
No commercial target audience, no mainstream promotion, just a fantastic tune with great lyrics and a believable delivery.
As always with Leonard, there are moments of delightfully obtuse absurdity amongst the literary references, psycho-spiritual self-analysis and storytelling, its these that leave you thinking and trying to put together the pieces of the lyrical jigsaw. These snippets of imagery, ideas, authors and personal experiences all fit together creating an almost complete version of Leonard’s world, and it’s these gaps which leave you wanting more.
Similar to a Victorian peepshow, you’re aroused by what you get but ponder what more lies beyond the door. So like a purveyor of the repressed erotica from yesteryear Leonard has done it again, tickled our fancy without giving it all away. If the album is as good as this lead single it could be on GIGsoup’s best of the year just like its predecessor was in 2016, but as any good astrologer will tell you, it always depends on a distant star.
If your penchant is for poetic piano driven ballads of love, loss, literature and existential (but opioid addled) probing then look no further, Saint Leonard has delivered.