The third album from folk darlings The Leisure Society has some beautiful moments, but as a whole it sways dramatically from their trademark twee English rosiness to some Radio 2 clap trap as bland as your mum’s Buble records. Nick Hemming is a great song writer - two Ivor Novello nominations show that - but ‘Alone Aboard The Ark’ lacks his usual mesmerizing arrangements and originality. It’s a little more Beautiful South than the British folk talents like Laura Marling who keep getting better and maturing their sound. Below the too-slick production, there are some sweet songs, like the cheery ‘Another Sunday Psalm’, more reminiscent of their first album, and the lovely ‘The Sober Scent Of Paper’ with its double tracked vocals and woody flute. But then there’s ‘Fight For Everyone’, which is so far in the other direction it makes you feel like you’ve cheated on your boyfriend…with his dad. It’s wrong in so many ways. Hemming’s great folk pop writing runs through the album and his talent as a song-writer shines through - the songs are simple sing-alongs with some lovely hooks - but trying to open his sound to random ideas and new styles just doesn’t seem to suit. Getting rid of the cello and replacing it with a bubbly bass is the first mistake, but so much more needs to be fixed. The retro electric, the glam, the Balkan, the Beatles-esque reed organ - it’s not what’s expected from this talented collective of musicians. Bring it back guys.
Words by GEMMA HAMPSON