1980 and all that: 2009

Leisure Society

My life as a writer about music has thrown up the occasional perk. Obviously there have been freebie copies of albums to review and a few gigs to go to (Richard Thompson’s set was interrupted by a fire alarm which was particularly memorable). But on the whole, if you want to make a tonne of cash, you probably need to do something else (or maybe I’m just not doing it right!).

One of the perks I did get, though, was the chances I had (and took) to go to the Wychwood Festival back in my home turf of Gloucestershire. It’s fairly small affair, as festivals go, a very family friendly occasion with a good soul to it.

It’s also frightfully middle-class. In the first year I went, 2010, the event was sponsored by The Independent (for any younger people reading, this was a newspaper which is kind of like if Buzzfeed was printed out on paper and sold, like, for money – yes! I know: you actually had to pay for it – in shops – you know, like real shops, not Amazon or iTunes or whatever; to be honest I’m beginning to see why that kind of business model hasn’t really taken off). There was also a mobile Waitrose and a London Routemaster Bus converted into a bar selling Pimms.

You could get more middle-class than that. But you’d have to try very, very hard.

Exactly what your average Wychwood attendee would have made of Slipknot fans trying out the domino effect with a row of portaloos at Reading is anyone’s guess.

One of the first acts I got to see at Wychwood that year (The Travelling Band were ok, I suppose), was The Leisure Society.

They blew me away. In a very mild, middle-class kind of way. I remember excitedly Tweeting that they were some kind of sublime combination of Belle and Sebastian and The Divine Comedy. You know: intelligent, if understated chamber pop designed to appeal to reticent bedsit dwellers and sensitive souls who read too much – or, at least, affect to read too much. Also, people who like to use the word “affect” on a regular basis.

‘The Last of the Melting Snow’ is a beautiful, beautiful break-up song. It is heart-wrenching in its beauty, tender in its simple delivery; a work of art:

So we find in the fading light of the wintertime
That there’s nothing left to try
All is best left unsaid.

A couple of years later, The Leisure Society had a song called ‘We Were Wasted’ used on the brutal, brutal, brutal film Tyrannosaur. For the uninitiated, it’s a film which starts with the protagonist kicking his own dog to death. And he’s the hero of the piece.

Despite the strange seeming juxtaposition of wanton violence with tender indie pop, The Leisure Society’s song proved a perfect match for the movie. I would urge you to watch to film (only so long as you have a strong stomach), but I would urge you with greater enthusiasm to listen to ‘The Last of the Melting Snow’.

You have been instructed.

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