If truth be told…
The self-proclaimed enigmatic electro-post-punk outfit that is Leg Puppy have returned with new album Non Disclosure Agreement. While the anarchic collective’s live shows are an experience that truly has to be witnessed first hand, their recorded output gives the listener time perhaps to truly appreciate the message that the experimental group are trying to deliver.
On their 2018 album You Should Be Paranoid, Leg Puppy ran through a variety of musical ideas and influences (see The Electricity Club’s review previously) that delivered an intriguing collection of tunes, but which also offered some timely cultural commentary. There were strange, dark moments lurking under the surface of You Should Be Paranoid, something which new album Non Disclosure Agreement picks up and expands upon.
Much of the new album offers a slightly sinister soundscape, particularly on the murky depths of opener ‘Truth’. Here, Leg Puppy put forth a strange miasma of sound where odd electronic effects drift in and out. It’s a suitably disturbing number as an album opener.
Non Disclosure Agreement then switches gears on the psychedelic ‘Tears’ which features the vocal talents of Voi Vang (one of Leg Puppy’s semi-regular collaborators). Here, this composition steps outside of Leg Puppy’s familiar territory of pointed social commentary for a mesmerising journey referencing samsara – the Buddhist concept of the cycle of life, death and rebirth. ‘Tears’ shifts around in style, with Voi Vang’s vocal talents alternating between a spoken narrative and a plaintive singing. Beneath this, shimmering elements and an earthy percussion drive the song along. This dreamlike outing (inspired by a past life experience apparently) is given further emphasis in the evocative animated visuals of the tune’s video.
On the chugging rhythms of ‘Nominate 10’, we’re taken back into the fast-clipped lyrical style of Leg Puppy chief Darren Laurence. Here, some suitably satirical jibes on social media addiction exposes the compulsion for online banality (“Seven photos taken black and white/A boring sunset and a flying kite”). But the tune also highlights the tragic side of online addiction (something made clear by the statements in the song’s video).
There’s a break of sorts on the strangely unsettling ‘Speak, Talk, Speak’. A disconcerting robot voice lists mundane everyday occurrences (“Bit of a nightmare/Wasn’t feeling great today/Had a peppermint tea/Feel fine now”) against a buzzy electronic backing and some mournful piano. There’s hints of OMD’s ‘Atomic Ranch’ here, with a similar flat delivery of the lyrics and another exploration of the humdrum.
Meanwhile,’Twit Machine T12′ is the spiritual successor to ‘Selfie Stick’ (Leg Puppy’s previous satirical stab at pop culture). Here, the target is the obsession with mobile phones and, in particular, Twitter (“Tap-tap swipe/Thumbs-up Like”). As a composition, it’s a hard-edged angular affair with some dub guitar effects dropped in here and there as well as some more Vox Vang vocal flourishes.
Also on offer is a reworking of Leg Puppy’s classic song ‘She’s Lost Her Soul’. Their 2017 mini documentary She’s Lost Her Soul drew attention to the changing music scene with a 5-day one-man silent disco protest conducted by Leg Puppy frontman Darren Laurence. The documentary ran on a very pointed statement: “Corporations are killing our towns and turning them into identical Lego lands, it’s vitally important we keep culture alive.”
In its original incarnation, ‘She’s Lost Her Soul’ had a disconcerting dreamlike quality, which perhaps belied the song’s intent. While elements of that are still present in its 2019 incarnation, there’s a much more aggressive approach here. It’s a fairly direct statement on music venue culture and the threats that are coming against it (“Chains, they’re scattered around town”).
‘Puctas Murint’ offers another odd little interlude with a collage of sound and reversed vocals (essentially a non-percussion version of ‘Nominate 10’ played backwards).
Elsewhere, the oddly-titled ‘Corgi Stop’ suggests a very English nod to NEU!’s ‘Nazionale’, a similarly distorted delivery of the national anthem offering a comment of sorts on Brexit Britain.
The album closes with ‘Nda’, which offers a darker bookend to the album’s opening track. The longest track on the album, this is a murky rhythmic workout buried under a barrage of effects and distortion (It also serves up a homage of sorts to classic 1989 Lil Louis track ‘French Kiss’).
The whole affair is wrapped up in a suitably striking sleeve rendered by Cristabel Christo which seems to capture Non Disclosure Agreement‘s spirit in a suitable fashion.
Non Disclosure Agreement is out now.
Leg Puppy are performing on 31st October at The Victoria, London (with Down From Above, DSB & Broken God). 7th November The Ivy House, London and 17th November at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton. See The Electricity Club Events Calendar for more details on upcoming gigs.