Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tom Vek: Leisure Seizure

Tom Vek
Leisure Seizure
Rating: Grrrr

London based multi-instrumentalist Thomas Timothy Vernon-Kell, who records under the name Tom Vek, was lumped into the whole dance-punk movement back in the mid 2000s with other artists like The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem but never seemed really a part of that group. His 2006 debut album We Have Sound was a modest success, leading to performances on The O.C. and tracks on the Grand Theft Auto IV soundtrack, and all signs pointed towards him on the verge of a successful career. Then nothing for 6 years. In the interim, Vek built his own studio and laboriously worked on the follow up to his debut. The release of Leisure Seizure shows Vek in an interesting place genre-wise. Dance punk is no longer in vogue, though many of the artists from that genre have evolved their sounds enough to keep things fresh, but dance music, and especially quirky dance music, is now back in the spotlight. Will Leisure Seizure be an out-and-out hit? Doubtful, as it is probably way too quirky, and well, British, for most mass consumption, however, there are so many amazing singles and songs on here, that it wouldn't surprise me if it becomes a left-field hit.

First single "A Chore" deftly combines Vek's Mark Smith (of the Fall) vocal tics with dense, clattering percussion, whooshing synths, and scattered guitar.

"Aroused" sounds like a bizarre coupling between Oingo Boingo and Liars.

Leisure Seizure unfortunately is pretty front loaded, however, through the first 6 tracks Vek shows off an amazing range of production skills, from the buzzy, tense "We Do Nothing,"

to the sardonic and angular "Hold Your Hand,"

Tom Vek - Hold Your Hand by modularpeople

and the dramatic, aching "Seizemic."

Tom Vek - Seizemic by modularpeople

The slide begins on tracks like "A.P.O.L.O.G.Y.," "You Need To Work Your Heart Out," and "Too Bad" which sound more like sketches rather than fully formed songs, and also is the point where Vek's limited voice starts to strain and become less quirky and more annoying. Vek does show he is capable of changing his sound slightly to get out of these ruts. I enjoyed the glitchy electro of "Someone Loves You,"

Tom Vek - Someone Loves You by modularpeople

the droning synth workout "On A Plate,"

Tom Vek - On A Plate by modularpeople

and especially the motorik pulse of "Close Mic'ed" which brings the album's driving pace down to a manageable level.

Tom Vek, Close Mic'ed by dance yrself clean

Leisure Seizure shows Vek finding his way to his own distinct sound, understanding the limitations of his voice and taking chances with it, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. There are enough stellar tracks on the album that keep you coming back for more. I just hope Vek doesn't wait another 6 years to show us what he is capable of next.

Rating Guide

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and peaks one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

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