I’ve been a pretty huge fan of Manchester’s Kiran Leonard for some time now; I first fell in love hearing him on Marc Riley’s 6Music show, and he’s since wowed me at Green Man Festival and The Dalston Victoria.
Having released his acclaimed debut Bowler Hat Soup back in 2013, as well as a number of Bandcamp EPs and homemade CDR releases, Leonard has changed direction somewhat and succeeded in creating his own wonderfully unique sound. Now, with the release of his new album, Grapefruit, he has proved just what an incredibly innovative young artist he is.
I could try to unpick every story behind each of the breathtaking tracks on Grapefruit, but that’s almost impossible to do, such is the detail and vast number of references included in each song. Also, the intense musical power and overwhelming emotional effect of the album alone is enough to fill my word limit many times over. This is an utterly majestic creation, with each moment filled with a unique, sublime power.
With anthemic piano chords and sweeping strings, ‘Secret Police’ opens the album, flowing with a theatrical intensity alongside Leonard’s haunting vocals.
Next up, it’s the sixteen minute masterpiece, ‘Pink Fruit’; oozing a dream-like, emotion-strewn cacophony of sound, it’s a quarter of an hour of musical bliss. A creation filled with compelling contradictions. Angst-driven, yet dreamily euphoric; discordant, yet eerily beautiful. Blasts of intense, grunge-inspired sounds flow into folky, fiddle-filled melodies; racing staccato beats and twinkling cowbells slow to mesmerising halts. Leonard wails, and he whispers.
Whilst tracks such as ‘Ondor Gongor’ and ‘Half Ruined Already’ flow with jangly discordant melodies juxtaposed with heart-rending vocals and thrashing climaxes, and others such as ‘Calaphas In Fetters’ are filled with classically inspired strings and profound lyrical storytelling, each unique offering is full of surprises.
Each of the eight tracks ooze their own grandesque beauty and subtle power. Whether it’s the intricate finger-picking and twinkling piano chords transforming into clashing eclectic sounds and racing beats in ‘Pink Fruit’s “sibling” ‘Don’t Make Friends With Good People’, or the jazzy, smooth female guest vocals of closing track ‘Fireplace’, no two moments are the same when witnessing such inspired creativity.
These unlikely clashing juxtapositions seem to work for Leonard throughout the album, and just go to show his phenomenal imagination. He is not afraid to experiment and expose us to the utterly weird and wonderful world of the unexpected; and it pays off.
Kiran Leonard’s second album is so much more than just a record, it’s a multi-layered musical collage – a journey through an eclectic range of genres, instrumentation and emotions. Upon each listen, I’m simply blown away and spellbound by this profound and thought-provoking work of art.
Listening to Grapefruit in its entirety only goes to prove what I’ve said before: Kiran Leonard is one of the most exciting artists in the world today. And, although I haven’t even begun to go into all the intricate and inspired details included in each track, what I can say is that the intense emotion generated upon listening to Leonard is something else entirely from anything I’ve experienced in a very long time.
Grapefruit is out this Friday, 25 March on Moshi Moshi.
Album artwork by Kelly Adams