By: N. David Pastor
There are always a few things to consider when choosing an album for the summer.
First off, it has to be fun. Not like generic, day-at-the-beach fun, but it has to make you happy in some way. So as another requisite, let’s be able to dance and sing along–you know…whenever the moment calls for it. Maybe even try driving home late at night with your car speakers at full volume. Stuff like that. Oh, and there has to be at least one or two songs for those moments that give us pause throughout the summer (like an early sunrise after a long night). It’s also the kind of record that you can let play in the background while you hang out with your friends. It’s versatile. But most importantly, you don’t have to skip any of the tracks. This is an album, not a playlist; and somehow, it always feels comforting to keep coming back to the same source of inspiration–if only for a little while.
Leisure Cruise, the self-titled debut of Leah Siegel and Dave Hodge’s recent musical collaboration, meets all of these criteria. The only problem is that the record was released in early May, which means the album barely lasted until the second week of June. I couldn’t help it. Before it was officially declared summer, I had already exhausted the experience. But for the record (get it?), it was worth it.
And that’s because Leisure Cruise is a synth pop album with its own imaginative sense of purpose. The band itself is actually based on the concept of humans abandoning the planet after having consumed all of its resources. It’s a pretty depressing allusion that also comes with an unexpected sense of optimism (hence the name of the band). That’s not to say leisure is really indicative of the purposeful sound on this record. For example, tracks like “Double Digit Love” and “Sailing” keep things moving at an even pace, while “Ragged Dawn” and “Earthquake” would be considered the aforementioned requisite slow jams for the summer. They should also be considered an accomplishment apart from the record itself, two of the more affecting songs you will come across.
*If your own your way home at 5am and “Ragged Dawn” starts playing, I guarantee you feel an irrational sense of accomplishment–no matter what happened earlier in the night.
“Human Relocation Program (H.R.P.)” takes its influences from Daft Punk, last summer carrying over to this year if it helps to think of it that way. There’s even a little sex appeal on tracks like “Livin’ It Up.” “Believer” and “Revelation” are two sides to the same coin: playful, yet devout to the future aesthetic. In the end, this isn’t really a concept record, but if the cover art is any indication, there was a little more thought put into the overall theme–which is another aspect of summer you might want to consider. For now, it’s too late (unless you find yourself headed toward a different hemisphere), but if you’re looking for summer in the next few months, Leisure Cruise leaves a pretty convincing impression.