Tom Vek Leisure Seizure Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

There's enough here to satisfy aficionados of offbeat, fiercely inventive pop music.

Nick Levine 2011

How many years has it been since Tom Vek released his debut album, We Have Sound? So many that the elusive Londoner even promoted the now semi-legendary record by making a cameo appearance on The O.C., the US teen drama series that's long since been consigned to "dusty box-set at the back of the shelf" status. Hence, the pertinent question: does the self-taught multi-instrumentalist still have something special to offer in the more kaleidoscopic musical climate of 2011?

The answer is a resounding yes – largely because the erstwhile Thomas Timothy Vernon-Kell still has a thrillingly singular way with rhythm. He builds these 12 songs from the beats up, adding hooky, often heavy guitar riffs, bolstering with synths that alternate between stabbing and squiggling, and then decorating with everything from Mellotron to disco zaps to New Order-style basslines. Leisure Seizure is less grungy and more gutsy than Vek's garage-recorded debut, but the presence of Marina & The Diamonds collaborator Liam Howe – who co-produces alongside Vek and DJ Tom Rixton – hasn't resulted in a glossy pop record. Aside from the hymnal, ambient Close Mic'ed, which tips its cap ever so subtly in the direction of dubstep, Leisure Seizure is a bracingly noisy affair – as committed to clattering as a toddler who's just discovered mummy's saucepan cupboard.

Those scanning for clues into the record's lengthy gestation period are unlikely to be disappointed. As well as suggestions of romantic bitterness, Vek's cryptic lyrics contain teasing hints of loneliness, world-weary resignation and crippling inertia. "We do nothing with our time…" goes the chorus of one song. However, as potentially insightful as these sound bites might be, it's also important to note that Leisure Seizure sounds fresh and fully-realised rather than excessively fussed-over or borne out of frustration. Perhaps Vek wasn't being glib when he told the NME recently: "It's necessary to be mysterious about your operations when they're a mystery to you."

So while six years is still far too long to wait for any album not auteured by one Catherine Bush of Bexleyheath, there's more than enough here to satisfy aficionados of offbeat, fiercely inventive pop music – and who knows, maybe even the musical director of Gossip Girl?

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