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A review of...
Grapefruit by Kiran Leonard
Don't bother reading this, just go to the shops and buy it
Kiran Leonard's second (I think) full length album Grapefruit is quite a thing to behold. Much has been said of this young man's genius in the press over the past few years (he seems to have been practically adopted by Marc Riley, such is his undying love for the fellow), but anyone who listens to just the first three minutes of this record will find it hard to argue against the plaudits.
Grapefruit opens with "Secret Police", as perfect an opening track as I've ever encountered. It's quite hard to pin down why it's so good. Could it be the downbeat piano intro? Or the lush orchestration? Or the gradual sense of breaking through the dark clouds and into the sunshine? There's certainly a spine-tingling moment when the drums kick in...and then another at the end when the vocal harmonies (like the evil Beach Boys) send the all too brief tune on its merry way. And in typical erratic fashion, this perfectly compact song is followed up by a 16 minute rhapsody called "Pink Fruit" which equals its predecessor in every way. I can't think of any album in recent memory that has such a dizzying one-two punch of opening tracks. Stunning.
I think any album would struggle to keep up the momentum after such a breathtaking start but Leonard has a remarkably good crack it it. These are songs with little time for traditional lyrical narratives or musical structures, in fact Leonard seems like a genuine maverick. And whilst there are nods to psychedelica, 60's garage and sometimes more obvious nods to artists like Thom Yorke, he never seems to be completely in debt to any particular movement or musical hero.
Leonard has made an awful lot of music in his still fledgling career (amazingly he's still only 20 years old), but here he seems more settled, focussed on a smaller set of tools:- frantic guitars, peaceful strings and beautiful piano key strokes which are all executed in dazzling, gasp inducing fashion.