Cultural commentary from the electronic anarchists…
Describing the inspiration for their new album You Should Be Paranoid, electro punk outfit Leg Puppy include the western world’s obsession with narcissim, social media as an addiction, bio hacking and identity theft.
As evidenced by their live outings, Leg Puppy are not your typical electronic outfit. Combining elements of theatre, grooves and social commentary, the combined talents of Darren Laurence, Claire Jones, Pups and Hugo Bamboo managed to light up the live scene in 2017 in a way that few other acts could match.
Similarly, You Should Be Paranoid mixes in a broad selection of approaches and ideas that are often difficult to easily pigeonhole. With nods to trance, trip-hop and electropop the album could, under lesser talents, struggle to work as an album. But You Should Be Paranoid still manages to be a cohesive whole whose strengths are highlighted by some accomplished compositions. There’s still a rough garage punk aesthetic at work, but this works in the album’s favour.
The release of ‘Selfie Stick’ last year (which served as one of the precursers to You Should Be Paranoid) revealed an unsettling, brooding side to Leg Puppy married with some relevant social commentary. It’s a tune that was dreamt up as an anthem of sorts for an ‘Age of Narcissism’ typified by social network culture – and pretty much nails its colours to the mast.
Similarly, ‘Black Light 15’ acknowledges the powerful addiction of social media. A bass-heavy synth line weaves through the composition that wears its trip-hop influences on its sleeve. There’s a hypnotic feel to the track which suggests falling into a fugue-state. Yet the track also offers up some nicely composed synth lines cut from the darker end of the electronic music spectrum.
Elsewhere, there’s more disturbing narratives at work. ‘Control’ draws from a story where a woman was almost burnt to death by a dominating boyfriend. Although it pulls in trance and (at times) wistful electropop elements, it’s a dark lyrical journey (“Didn’t want to play anymore/I picked you up from the floor”).
‘Silence 23’ (which features contributions from Eirēnē and Ceiling Demons) is a languid affair marked by a beguiling rhythm. Apparently inspired by a past life regression experience “involving Captain Pugwash, Turner & psychedelic paint brushes”, it’s a trippy number with buzzy electronic effects and a mesmeric vocal delivery.
‘Running Through A Field Of Wheat’ presents a dancepop outing that the band suggest is “Underworld meets Fleetwood Mac”. As opposed to the remixed version released last year, which had a more techno-based arrangement, the album mix is a much more simpler offering with the vocals more prominent in the mix. The lyrics deal in themes of feeling lost and confused (“like a rabbit caught in headlights/I don’t know which way to turn”) which may (or may not) have a pointed message inspired by prominent political leaders. That said, the song’s title is a reference to the “naughtiest thing” that Theresa May once confessed to…
‘Utopia (No Regrets)’ drops into dance music territory with a dubby layered approach and an ethereal vocal from Claire Jones. In a troubling political climate, it’s intriguing to see the idea of looking at potential utopias as a possible escape (it’s a theme that Austra also touched on last year).
There’s an odd beauty to ‘Leather’ with its torchsong-like vocals and melancholic guitar riffs. But the album returns to familiar themes on closing track ‘Paranoid’ with its ruminations on our online profiles and the proliferation of scams and identity theft. The unsettling tones of this final composition manage to induce ideas of anxiety and suspicion before closing out with a charming (and unexpected) music box melody.
You Should Be Paranoid presents a timely album that successfully manages to combine a broad base of musical styles with cultural (and often witty) commentary. In an Age of Narcissism, it’s the only album of choice.
You Should Be Paranoid is out 2nd February 2018.
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