Review by Andrew Patterson
Truth is, you can do almost anything you want over a really good bass line. And if you get the mixture right, just right, really straightforward pop songs can reach a state of wonderfully refined fulfilment. They allow you to have fun; what’s more, they feed you. You feel seriously good listening to them, full up.
The first signs of recorded life from Toronto’s Gentlemen Of Leisure grant you this sweet freedom. The duo, featuring Drew Smith (the Bicycles) and Matt McLaren (Steamboat), make highly accessible, infectious neo-soul with no punches pulled. And while the idea of R&B appropriation in late 2013 might not seem so exciting, the duo prove to be impeccable songwriters and players as they move deftly through an entire musical history: late-sixties Jackson 5 jangle, seventies disco and quiet storm slow burners, mid-nineties R&B influence and even early-aughts top 40 touchstones. Bolstered by stellar mixes from the saintly Sandro Perri and featuring guest spots from Toronto’s own power-diva, Maylee Todd, Gentlemen Of Leisure is a resounding success.
All of the six tracks feel unique, as though each one were it’s own mini genre exercise, and flow wonderfully into the next like a well-curated mixtape. Lyrically, the songs are perfectly reuctionist: strictly sexy or sad (or some combination thereof). Their resonance depends entirely on how susceptible you are to their well-cast spell. Don’t bother resisting, listening is much more freeing.