BOOM! The only reasonable way you can express the impact of The Vegan Leather‘s debut album is by way of onomatopoeia, as ‘French Exit‘ announces its…er…entrance with explosive aplomb. At this point, they sound like Talking Heads, Operator Please, The Klaxons and Cut Copy have been put in a blender and served up as soup of the day, albeit about ten times better than you would expect such a thing to sound.
Songs like ‘Unorthodox‘, with its irresistible early eighties style synthpop shimmy, or ‘Days Go By‘, not a Dirty Vegas cover (surely they’d have called themselves Dirty Vegan as a one-off if they’d recorded such a thing) but an equally infectious track with a knowing wink to a pre-world domination era Human League. But while there is clearly a lot of love for that particular period in The Vegan Leather’s musical archives, somehow they are able to avoid cliche, managing to shoehorn it into something else completely, and end up with a product that seems fresh and new, not to mention somewhat thrilling.
So what makes Poor Girls/Broken Boys so appealing? A number of things, actually. The many keyboard flourishes and loops, for a start, and the urgency of much of the music on offer here. It’s comparable to when I do the school run in the mornings in some ways: I drop my son off, then walk back home, getting stuck behind a bunch of other parents who are apparently walking at a pace so slow that you wonder if it’s even humanly possible to do so. So you feel itchy and agitated, much like some of the compositions here, most notably ‘The Knife‘, which is a little like LCD Soundsystem in vocalist Gianluca Bernacchi’s delivery, despite the band’s Scottish roots. But then, you find a gap in the sluggish throng, and manage to break through to the front to empty space and freedom. The Vegan Leather do that, too, where buoyant guitars crash in, like they’re soundtracking a film’s protagonist escaping from captivity. Just like that school run.
In these uncertain times, it’s great to have a band around who can effortlessly put smiles on people’s faces, and The Vegan Leather do this in spades. ‘Holy Ghost‘, for example, tricks you at first into thinking this is going to be a more downbeat, heartfelt number full of pathos and political intrigue, but instead, what they’re encouraging us to do is turn off the television, turn off the news, and just have a bloody good dance instead, regardless of whether you’re at a nightclub or merely in the kitchen. This is euphoric stuff, and a real antidote to the increasingly more hateful society that apparently surrounds us. The Vegan Leather don’t want any part in that world and quite frankly, neither do I. What else is there to do but join them? But there’s one rule – you have to dance, ok?
Poor Girls / Broken Boys is out now on Midnight Pink Records.