‘Clumsy Knot’ the debut LP ‘proper’‘ from Glasgow’s Randolph’s Leap (out on Monday on Lost Map) is everything you’d expect.
Packed with smart and witty lyrics and memorable tunes the album offers up some previously released singles (‘News’ and ‘Hermit’), some new versions of older songs (such as the likes of ‘I Can’t Dance To This Music Any More’ and ‘Weatherman’) but also some newer unreleased tunes such as ‘Unnatural’ and the, ahem, rocking ‘Microcosm’.
In truth, no matter how much I love the band I’ve written about the Leap so often (even this year) that I’ve probably not much new to say about the songs themselves other than to assure you that many on the album are unquestionably amongst the band’s finest.
What’s a little different is that the album brings together the two strands to the band’s previous recordings – the largely solo lo-fi recordings of previous albums with the technicolour joy of the full band recordings. Yet, rather unexpectedly to these ears at least, the balance here is towards the DIY recordings.
Which I did worry would disappoint me as I was hoping the album would be a celebration of the 8 piece. But actually the difference between the two strands of recording isn’t as clear-cut as I thought it would be for a couple of reasons.
There’s only one tune of which I’ve heard a full band version of that’s not on the album – ‘Light of the Moon’. The full band version was issued ahead of the album on one of the Lost Map postcard singles and frankly it’s great. But it’s not on the album. And the reason for that is that the D.I.Y. version is at least as equally great. So any notion of “full band = good” and “D.I.Y.= not so good” doesn’t necessarily hold up.
Certainly the full band, when brought to bear, make a joyful pop noise on previous singles ‘Hermit’ and ‘News’ as well as on new tune ‘Microcosm’. The simply gorgeous ‘Isle of Love’ meanwhile showcases the band when deployed totally in the service of melody.
But the difference between the two strands is blurred even further by the fact that, on a number of tracks, the full band is used sparingly and subtly – ‘Weatherman’ is a classic example with the different instruments used for colouring for most of the song – which only maximises the impact of the its wonderful climax.
And, being honest, there’s an undeniable charm to the ‘lo-fi’ recordings such as ‘Foolishness of Youth’ and ‘Black and Blue’ which undoubtedly complements the more fleshed out arrangements.
‘Clumsy Knot’ therefore has to be taken on what it is rather than what it might have been and what it is, is a very fine record indeed.
‘Clumsy Knot’ is released on Monday (7th) on Lost Map and is available on both vinyl and C.D. The Leap launch ‘Clumsy Knot’ at the Kinning Park Complex in Glasgow on Saturday (5th) with support from Sweet Baboo and Rachel Dadd . More info here.