After a 2 year pause and numerous covers released on his bandcamp page, Claus Larsen treated us with the new Leaether Strip release in form of new album “Spaectator”. Released on Rustblade record label, this album once again gives us a slightly new side of his work, although it still has distinct Leaether Strip feel to it.
This album will, more than any other release since “After the Devastation” please old Leaether Strip fans, as there are numerous songs with pre-hiatus feel to it and since, what may be the biggest difference, the sound became much cleaner with reduced use of distortions. Worth noting is that, although the feeling is there, the complete sound also has a bit of a pop feel on some of the songs. Not so much that listening to it is different, but it is hard to deny it is there. When you start listening, you will notice that songs are a bit less direct in delivering their message than we were used to and focus more on, in lack of better words, fragile emotional side, resembling in that aspect “Self-Inflicted” album from 1997. As the album progresses, Leaether Strip directness starts to kick in, with seventh song “Victorious” being the tipping point after which he is as direct, political and harsh as ever. Most of the artists during their careers have some things they return to from time to time in their work and on this album there are a few songs that resemble, either in music form or in subject, to the previous work, but from both time and life experience distance.
“White As Chalk” deals with death of, most probably, parental figure and emotions appearing after such event, when everything starts to redefine itself in wake of that person’s absence. It has a firm bass line and gets in your ear easily, but is still somehow melancholic.
Which brings us to “Filling The Graves”, the first single taken from the album; accompanied by the video release. Song that has a lot of “Fit for Flogging” feel in the musical sense, but deals with the aspect of the surrounding society from a nonconformist’s view. Definitely the best song on the album and good selection for the video.
“Down” continues with a firmer and dancier rhythm, delivering a very atmospheric idea, but at the same time is in a way a classic EBM song. For a few days it was my second favourite, but after more listening, some tracks down the line started surfacing as new favourites.
“Spaectator”, the title song of the album is the one that left me lukewarm. Not a bad song, but missing something that would push it slightly ahead to the good song area.
And now comes the biggest surprise of the album, “So Beautiful”. It’s almost a pop love song, which I wouldn’t find strange hearing on mainstream radio shows, daring to say that with female vocal, might even have hit potential.
“Victorious”, as mentioned before, comes as a tipping point of this album. My first impression of this one could be best described as a sequel of “Adrenaline Rush”. Although the song questions who really won in broader sense, the author claimed his own personal victory in it.
Following it comes “Same Old Shit”, a pure political anti-establishment statement about how no matter the outcome, political structures try keeping everything in status quo. I consider this the second best song on the album, with a very danceable bass line and good and catchy tag line and chorus.
“Pigz” shares the sentiment of the previous song, but is focused on current European anti-immigration issues, using Animal Farm allegory of pigs as the ones who call the shots.
What to say about “Luc Van Acker”? Well, this is pure pornography in line with the best days of Psychopopms. Not sure what’s the story behind the lyrics, but the statement and the message are clear. To top that, the song itself is danceable as hell.
The album closes with two “So Beautiful” remixes, Retrogramme Remix and Digital Anodyne Remix that prove my point noted previously about this song. The remixes definitely have a guilty pleasure potential for the hardcore EBM crowd.
All in all, another very good release from Leaether Strip which may appeal a bit more to the old fans who maybe didn’t like the new Leather Strip releases. It is not pure old school, but it does have elements that made Leaether Strip one of the most important EBM bands of the 90s which evolved in the new millennium.