Spirit Level is just the enthralling and joyous little bubble of fun that we so desperately needed in 2021. With this, the upbeat and adventurous wee brother to 2018s Worryingly Okay;Scottish folk-pop darlings Randolph’s Leap have served up the most deliciously seeping of nostalgic sunshine, for even the chilliest afternoon.
Over the years, the yearnings and harmonically inducing temperaments of frontman Adam Ross’ has been compared and hooted alongside the likes of Jeff Magnum (Neutral Milk Hotel), Kenny Anderson (King Creosote) and Dan Willson (Withered Hand).
Spirit Level elevates Randolph’s Leap and Rossinto an emulsion of their own, throughout the ten songs on show there is a persistence and consistency dancing within the finely flexed muscled compositions and song writing. Yet, even deeper, hauntingly below the sunny licks of guitar and salivating styling trombone is a sombre and reflective Ross, as he struggles to coherently map out his mind set with a panic attack induced lyrical salvo in the likes of ‘Let This Lie’: “I don’t know if I can let this lie, seems like you were born to say goodbye”; Ross ponders over a bellowed gang choir of harmony.
Elsewhere, on ‘Ghost’ Ross explores “I could hardly not be affected”; a thematic hollering to struggling with an attempt of relocating to Aberdeen from Glasgow, transportation of doubt and self-loathing flirts through Scottish pessimism and the darkest corners of self-deprecating humour.
Keeping in line with the fine servings and dashing of chaotic circumstance, ‘Up In Smoke’ tells of the very real fire, which would engulf keyboardist Pete MacDonald’s flat during the period of mastering and mixing, a modernistic fluttering of fuzzy distorted drums engulf a pedal to the floor series of rock n’ roll guitar frenzy.
‘Punchbag’ sums up Randolph Leap’s cordial relationship with bad luck best: “grass is always greener on the other side; ours is scorched and black”, yet, it is this same comical affair with naughty karma that helps to serve up some of the best storytelling that we have come to expect from Ross and Leap over their four record span as an outfit. ‘Helluva Summer’ and ‘Lungs’ sustain a courteous and curious attempt of reflection and sweet precious nostalgia as they blast through a sigh of relief: “it’s been a helluva summer and its only mid-May”.
By the time we reach closer ‘Too Good’, which opens with a stripped bare guitar, hindsight and melancholic regret has finally caught up with Ross, coming across almost mentally exhausted by his journey the past few years: “it was all too good to be true”, Ross chuckles out almost bemused by his own happenstance.
The musicianship and layers of enshrining delight within Spirit Level is bared for all to see, at a time when creativity is at its most precarious, Randolph’s Leap have responded in the most clinical of fashions, with what can only be described as a dangerously good pop record and an early contender for record of the year.
Words: Chris Kelman