I won’t lie, when I first read the email asking me to review a new album I fan girled – a lot. The band in question is in my opinion the best live band in the country, performing with an unbelievable amount of energy and boundless enthusiasm. You’re guaranteed to come out of one of their gig covered in sweat with the biggest grin on your face, humming any number of their brilliantly catchy songs as you go. The band I’m talking about is obviously altska pioneers Imperial Leisure. Their brand new album Lifestyle Brand is due out on the 6th of April and I was incredibly excited to listen to it. Then I got a bit worried, what if it was rubbish? I guess there was only one way to find out....
With the opening horn blasts of opener Victory Notice I had a feeling my worries would be unfounded. This was the Imperial Leisure I know and love. This was horn driven songs accompanied by front man Denis’s rapid vocal delivery and a huge chorus. There was a nice moment tow thirds in when the guitars got that slight bit heavier and built towards a big finale that you just know would have a live crowd jumping up and down with glee. The second song Lucky People continues in this vein, only with added keys which give the track a nice extra layer. After only one listen I’m already singing along with the chorus of “All You Lucky People, Lovely Lucky People, You Get Down, You Get Down Down Down Down.” The opening of the third track Animal has more of a traditional ska sound before the vocals kick in and the song goes down a more rock and roll road. The band effortlessly switches between the two genres throughout the song, showing first class musicianship. The breakdown towards the end almost transports you to a rock and roll jungle, using the brass to somehow create the sounds of an elephant. The intro of the fourth song Three Women One Night reminds me of an old movie, when someone is in a jazz club with a sole trumpet solo leading into a story. The trumpet is slowly replaced by the keyboard playing a similar tune; this was a very enjoyable part of the song before Denis burst into life and energetically tells the story of a crazy night. The horns really come to life in this song and it will have the whole crowd in a skanking frenzy.
Nasty Boy is a song that Imperial Leisure have been playing life for a little while now and is a very welcome addition to their set. The guitars are harder here than in the previous songs and this gives the track a feeling of a rock song with brass rather than a ska song. The chorus is again absolutely huge and will have everyone singing so so loudly. Splendid Marvellous is a song that really allows the guitars and bass to really shine, with the bass player really laying down some nice lines. Of course this all leads towards the horns really taking things to another level later on in the song. Storming into life before really slowing things down to end the song on a tempo that is rare for an Imperial Leisure song. On Christmas day last year Imperial Leisure released a music video for the song Razzle Dazzle. This is a high energy dance song about decorating your lady private area with jewellery – the vajazzle. This song will definitely be a big hit in the live arena, with its witty if not slightly obscene lyrics and another huge chorus. Razzle Dazzle is a hell of a lot of fun! The eighth song Festival starts out with a hip hop beat with Denis rapping the first verse. There’s a key change and the song builds towards a big chorus before switching back to the hippity hop. The song is all about going to festivals and having the time of your life. Last year I wrote a blog about my dream festival line up (here) and including Imperial Leisure in the line up, they are the perfect festival band.
Isle Of Slice is another song with a hip hop flavour. The song reminds me of the song Great British Summertime from debut album The Art Of Saying Nothing, except this song is about having the best time somewhere actually sunny. Machine vs. Monster see’s the band really pick the tempo up, this is the song that will get the crowd moshing at the live shows. Credit to Denis for being able to keep up with the tempo when delivering his lines, it must be absolutely knackering. I got slightly out of breath just listening to the song. Thankfully for me the tempo is slowed right down for the penultimate song The Big E. This really lets the Imperial Leisure boys really show off their ability as musicians as it, aside from background oohs and aaahs is completely instrumental. The Big E is one of my favourite songs on Lifestyle Brand. The twelfth and final song on the album is named Creeper. The music at the start of this song makes you want to bang your head, it’s short and stabby as Denis carries the melody with his vocals. It’s yet another song that you can’t help but dance along with, with all the members of the band laying down their own stamp on the song. It builds brilliantly into one final big chorus with feels far more controlled in the delivery and then the song just stops....and so does the party.
I think this is without a doubt this is Imperial Leisure’s best album to date. They band know that they are a live band first and foremost and seem to have a written a whole record that would excellently fit into an already stellar set list. I truly think that all the best songs by any band are the ones you can imagine live before actually getting the chance to see it. Lifestyle Brand features twelve songs that I can imagine live. Great stuff!
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