December 28th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments
This week’s artist of the week is a pitchfork writer (or used to be) whose absolute grasp on the elements of pop music has allowed him to make music that both subverts and embodies the format at the same time. While most albums can easily be found online or in the more select of record stores in Toronto (Rotate Disc, Sonic Boom), this artist’s debut album took me at least six months or more to find at last on the shelves of Soundscapes. The artist of the week is…
Leone manages to fuse together an obscene selection of diverse influences ranging from the classic pop of The Beatles and The Beach Boys to the electronic works of Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwer. The ultimate creation is a kaleidoscopic monster of electro-pop that looks towards the future while never ignoring the past. Or as I described it when I first listened to the album: it sounds like ELO on acid.
Just like ELO, the music thrives on grandiosity. Though Leone rarely uses orchestral embellishment, seeming to prefer synthetic sounds, the vocals all have that soaring, synthetic, multi-tracked sound. Even so, unlike albums by (former band of the week) Pacific and ELO themselves, Leone’s music never feels overly synthetic, though to call it organic sounding would be quite a stretch. Instead, it manages to occupy some middle territory that the better laptop-pop albums of recent years call home.
Though it’s unlikely that any of Leone’s songs will be getting airtime in Canada soon (except on 4 AM college programs – MAYBE), it’s the classic AM-radio song formula that seems to have given birth to his music. His take on it, however, is so strangely and unpretentiously avant-garde that the album feels like a Harvard master thesis on unique application of pop composition. At first, the album’s deliberate complexity is off-putting, but after a couple listens it becomes thoroughly engrossing to delve into the depth of Leone’s craft.
In a way, Leone represents a classical approach to pop music in the way that it merges a highly studied approach to music making with contemporary sounds, methods and technologies. And the result is simply totally awesome.