Imperial Leisure - Death To The One Trick Pony (Steamroller Ltd)

North London ska-punks Imperial Leisure unsheath round two of their infectious sound with new effort Death To The One Trick Pony.

Released Apr 2nd, 2012 via Steamroller Ltd / By Larry Day
Imperial Leisure - Death To The One Trick Pony (Steamroller Ltd) Funded partially by the fanbase, their new batch of material has a lot riding on it: the hurdle of a creating successful sophomore record, and ensuring the fans feel like their money has been put to good use. There's less reliance on rapping and turntables, and instead the relentless joy has been usurped by a grey cloud of sinister keys and tragic circus horns. This turn is a gamble, with ska being one genre that is famed for it's grin-inducing melodies. Welcome to the dark side of ska.

Album intro 'Clowns At A Funeral' struts into gear with thumping toms and offbeat chord riffs. A slow burner, the ferocity steps up with a cacophony of brass and a fuzzy underbelly of bass plucks. Lead vocalist Denis Smith screams into life with the subtle lyric “You must be fucking joking...” and the band hurtle straight into the following track, 'Number One'. Galloping drums and a poppy synth introduce the song as a right proper belter- full of accented horns and punk-infused vocals, this is definitely a dancefloor filler.

Although filling support slots for major ska legends Less Than Jake and hip hop maestros Sugar Hill Gang, this albums tone and sonic shift would see them more at home supporting rockier acts. 'Dead Model' opens with an solitary guitar, drenched with reverb. The familiar London drawl slips from Smith's tongue, and the morbid lyrics: “Scream for your life, dead model” haunt every soundwave. There is more than a hint of Intimacy-era Bloc Party here. The shoegaze strings and underlying synth reliance set the track in the indie ballpark, and although there is a trumpet solo, little can detract from the macabre timbre.

Single 'London To Brighton' manages to lift the atmosphere somewhat, a summery ditty with astounding bass, a real soundtrack to cider-sippin' upon the beach. The track harks back to first the album highs, an intensely energetic and wildly catchy track that's sure to become a set staple.

Death To The One Trick Pony
is mad development from debut The Art Of Saying Nothing. Taking the traditional ska conventions and tipping them upside down, Imperial Leisure delve into the unknown and dabble across the musical spectrum, trying their hand at a bit of everything, like a chubby gentleman at a free buffet. The record has some genuinely contagious songs, with hooks perpetually spinning round your head long after the album is finished- and even the moodier moments manage to make a mark. Hearing the tenacity on the album is one thing, but the live scene is where the band thrive, so be sure to catch one of their indescribable shows during the current tour.