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Leatherette – Small Talk Review

Such a relief when so far behind on work to see bands still bold enough to wrap their material at a firm half-hour. It imposes a new style of quality on a record otherwise devoid. Small Talk, the second record from Leatherette, is just that. Short, snappy and exuding all the force of a titan-like piece of music, all in a half hour. Football halves last longer than this. They do not provide the pumped-up energy or joy of this Leatherette working, though. Fiesta was just a year ago, but when music can be accessed immediately and forgotten just as quickly, there is no time to rest on your laurels. Leatherette are as smart as they are slick with this second release, which is stocked full of absolute quality and intensity.  

Saxophone whines and self-flagellation of whatever they have done to themselves crash through on opening hitter Bureaucracy Apocalypse. The theme is clear, the tracks are strong – what makes it all come together? Who knows. It is most likely the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah-esque saxophone at play and the smooth and focused European beat which rides under the rising chords and inevitable crashes of percussion. Music made for a kart racer in the mid-2000s is a niche to target and for someone going absent from coffee for a day, it makes more sense in the headache fusion than it does to normal people. But that is the scene Isolation sets, the second track of Small Talk and the first where Leatherette feel truly near to their point. Fading away is the core of these tracks, the fear of isolation from peer review and acclaim. There is a natural fear to it in the creative arts, but in everyday life, there is a need to not be noticed but to be assured. Fade Away hits this well. 

There is something whole which lingers on through just a half hour. The new standard of hour-long features has discarded the half hour pleasure and Small Talk revives the reasons for shorter pieces. Spluttering and coughing through the open of inevitably creepy Spying On The Garden, there is much to love about a band who can adapt There’s a Worm at the Bottom of the Garden into a blur of Idles and late-stage Public Image Ltd. Tributes to footballer Ronaldinho certainly sound like a ripped FIFA track, as Ronaldinho provides. Their bleed into Nightshift and the final push on those football-mentioning tracks and riotous endeavours like Ronaldo are all worth sticking around for. 

Leatherette put the art into punk but subverted it enough to include those wider audiences who want foot-stomping, arm-flailing action. Inevitably tender Lips is a gut punch for those floating in and out of attention. The movements of the day still surround how we listen to music, and regardless of where our patience and focus take us, a track of this quality will always draw someone back in. Hearing those strings, the repetition of “don’t despair,” with those Italian flickers, is one of the finest moments of music to come from this year. Small Talk is a huge step for Leatherette, who climb closer and closer to a monumental reaction which will benefit their music, and their listeners, wholly.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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