Essential new music release: Randolph’s Leap – Cowardly Deeds

CommonSpace music writer Jonathan Rimmer gives us the low down on the new album from Randolph's Leap

I'M always impressed when a pop ensemble of seven members or more manages to create a sound that’s driven by subtlety or delicacy. A crude assessment would be that more members means more noises, but plenty of bands disprove this logic.

An obvious example would be Glasgow indie troop Belle & Sebastian, who are characteristically twee but maintain a rich, rounded sound. Eight-piece Randolph’s Leap are similarly inclined: their rock instrumentation is complimented by horns, piano and strings.

However, each of these elements enter at selective points on the band’s second album, 'Cowardly Deeds', embellishing their main points rather than stealing the focus.

Much like Belle & Sebastian, the tone of the band’s compositions is mostly steered by the person on the mic. Adam Ross’s drifting vocals are melodically adventurous yet never detract from the band’s mellow approach.

His lyrics are nostalgic and often tongue-in-cheek, tackling ill-fated relationships with poetic resilience on tracks like Aberdeen and Goodbye. He’s too witty by half to get bogged down in self-pity – usually it’s the instrumentation that delivers the hint of melancholy.

No instrumental intervention is used to fill up space. On Shreds, for example, the strings fit the mood of the track by playing a tender counter melody. By contrast, the horns on Microcosm feel triumphant, conveying the joyous energy of their live shows perfectly.

The band’s flair for arrangement can’t be overstated; the best songs on the album are the ones that display the depth of their tastes. 'Like a Human' sees the band cross surf guitar licks with swelling organ chords before bursting into a full-on mariachi breakdown.

Say Nothing might also be the best closing track on an album that I’ve heard in a while. After teasing the listener over 10 tracks with snippets of skill from each member, the whole band come together for a rousing finale, 'la-la' refrain in tow. It’d seem cheesy if the band hadn’t already let you in on their sense of humour.

Randolph’s Leap are always fantastically fun without sounding too ostentatious. Their songwriting is sharp and inventive but not to the point where it’s not inviting.

On the contrary, Cowardly Deeds is one of the most engaging records you’ll hear this summer.

Picture courtesy of Euan Robertson

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