In the indecent haste to smother [a]Gay Dad[/a] at birth, many people seem to have forgotten why they liked music in the first place. The arrival of a band making joyous, aspirational, moving and effortless [I]pop [/I]music has caused an outbreak of panic among critics normally so desperate to locate those qualities anywhere. Perversely, [a]Gay Dad[/a] are being slapped down simply for refusing to take their allotted position as indie shelf-stackers.
It says everything about the ’90s that we’re all so used to swallowing battleship-grey mediocrity peddled out of the back of a Transit van that when a band dares to offer us something different – something beyond the merely prosaic – we don’t know how to react. ‘Leisurenoise’ offers a simple choice. If you want to continue being underwhelmed by music’s hod carriers – Cast, Reef, Stereophonics, Supergrass, Terrorvision, 3 Colours Red, whoever – then boycott this record. If not, then you’ve got to embrace the Dad.
Whatever else you think about Cliff Jones, he’s a believer. The only thing that’s ironic about this album is its title. It’s what most music is, and what [a]Gay Dad[/a] aren’t. Like Bobby Gillespie and Jason Pierce, Jones is in thrall to the history and divine power of music. And like Spiritualized and Primal Scream, it’s a feeling that’s embedded in every song [a]Gay Dad[/a] write.
‘Leisurenoise’ is an album that’s had so many producers it’s impossible to credit the songs to any one person. The purists doubtless think that says it all about an LP designed by committee, but actually that’s its strength. It’s a record that’s been polished so hard that every song is a radiant construction of weightless harmonies and glistening melodies. Out of ten songs, nine will seep directly into your skull with scientific ease.
The music – a Teutonic take on preening glam and dustball American FM rock – is beautiful. A synthetic weave of silver guitars and mechanised drums that’s part Billy Joel, part Kraftwerk, it’s a joy to listen to. The sound is virtually poured into your ears. The first eight songs, from the celestial chimes and effortless velocity of ‘Dimstar’ to the dumbo gum-chewing of ‘Dateline’, could all be singles, and are all shot through with a million cultural references – ‘Oh Jim’ steals its title from a track on Lou Reed‘s ‘Berlin’, ‘Joy’ namechecks a Palace Brothers LP, Dim Stars was the group Thurston Moore formed with Richard Hell, etc. Only once do [a]Gay Dad[/a] cross the line of good taste, right at the end, during ‘Jesus Christ’, when they cave into a wretched cod spirituality. But you can forgive them that. ‘Leisurenoise’ is a dreamer’s paradise, a 45-minute orbit around earth, a joyous celebration of sound and an uplifting soundtrack for a summer to come. If you want an alternative reality, an escape pod from modern life, then look no further. Like all great records, this album offers you a chance to reset to Year Zero and erase the competition. It shouldn’t be a difficult decision. You either like music. Or you don’t.