Leo And The Lineup

Hit The Streets

Written by: PP on 27/12/2015 08:19:56

Three years ago, Copenhagen-based ska/reggae group Leo & The Lineup released their self-titled debut album, which was characterized by its ultra chilled out beats and danceable grooves. Pop elements were present, but more importantly, the band took their ska/reggae heritage seriously and paid tribute to Babylove & The Van Dangos locally, and groups like The Slackers internationally, while delivering a Sunday hangover friendly approach to the style in a true Copenhagen style. Because who doesn't wake up on a Sunday in Copenhagen feeling a little rough from the night before, right? What better than some smooth reggae to soothe the pain, huh.

Sophomore album "Hit The Streets" continues largely where the debut album left off. We're still dealing with ska and reggae-rooted sound, with plenty of rocksteady and two-tone influence sandwiched in between. The record opens with a familiar soundbite anyone living near Copenhagen will recognize as the Øresundstrain slowing down as it approaches a station followed by an announcement of"Next station: Copenhagen Central Station". This fits in well with the theme of the first song, simply dubbed as "Copenhagen City Reggae", an ambitious title that nonetheless lives up to its name as the reggae anthem of Copenhagen. We're once again reunited with the hippie elements of the Christiania movement in terms of the soundscape; think Loppen and ska concerts here and you're on the right track. "Life Goes By" continues in the same realm with clever ska riffs, that give the song an easy-going vibe that's perfect for chilling out underneath palm trees while you're casually humming along to the "uhhh yeah, life goes by" chorus. Not even the slightest of worries in the world is present in the soundscape as the band's smooth ska/reggae expression lulls you into a state of relaxation unlike no other record will this year.

But just because the songs are relaxing doesn't mean they aren't danceable. The band's ability to get the girls shaking their bodies live is almost legendary, and plenty of alpha males have been seen joining in the fun as well. With songs like "Wooly Bully" -- which brings in 60s style rock'n'roll into the picture -- the band ensure there's enough groove to get the whole dancefloor moving. But even the slower material achieves the same effect. "Molly Girl" with its sublime female backing choir adds a nice pop-driven touch that nonetheless stays steadily rooted in ska/reggae realm. The same choir reappears frequently throughout the record, such as on another highlight track "Memories Of Summer", which again features a fresh sing along chorus to boost its otherwise chilled out vibe. Speaking of which, the sound of seagulls squealing on "At The Bayside" makes you want to sip cocktails on a sunny August afternoon in the Copenhagen harbour. Simplistic, but extremely effective ska riffs on the background create a tranquil atmosphere that has just enough going on for the song to be interesting.

And this is something Leo & The Lineup do very well both here and on their debut: write casual, laid back songs with few flashy moments but always ensure a catchy vocal hook or a smooth instrumental passage to keep the listener interested. That being said, the record does feel a tad long at 15 tracks plus an intro and an interlude to top it off. Cutting it down to eleven or twelve would have made sense because then a few filler tracks could've been cut out. As it stands now, "Hit The Streets" is a good piece of ska/reggae, though without the last touch that would make it stick out internationally as well. Still, contesting against Babylove & The Van Dangos locally, this record serves as a worthy input into the Danish ska/reggae scene.


Download: Copenhagen City Reggae, Life Goes By, Molly Girl, Memories Of Summer
For the fans of: The Aggrolites, Babylove & The Van Dangos, The Slackers
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.11.2015
Pork Pie Records/Jump Up Records

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