One gets the impression that something has gone drastically wrong at the Leaves' soundcheck earlier tonight. Perhaps the sound engineer doesn't do subtle. Too often the Leaves' blend of woozy, wispy rock grinds when it should soar and becomes muffled by distortion.

The Leaves, a five piece group of Rekkjavikians, which consists of Arnar Gudjonsson (vocals, piano, guitar) ; Hallur Hallson (bass) : Arnar Olafsson (guitar, backing vocals) : Noi Steinn Einarsson (drums) and Andi Sgmsson (keyboards), won much critical favour when they released their debut album, 'Breathe', in 2002. Now, after a three year absence and having switched labels in the meantime from B-Unique to Universal, they are back, playing some early dates to promote their second album, 'The Angela Test', which is due out in June, and acting as support to emo rockers, Thirteen Senses.

At least some of the late teens and early 20's largely student crowd have come specifically to see the Leaves. Two dozen or so ardent fans remain pressed up against the barrier in front of the stage throughout their 40 minute set. There are occasional glimpses of something very special in the ethereal Icelanders' delicate arrangements, little sparks of luscious melody and shoots of shimmering keyboards that elevate above the thumping sound. A two piece sampler from 'The Angela Test', which is given away at the entrance, also proves to be similarly gorgeously beautiful. As they struggle on against the sound problems, the Leaves, however, start to look increasingly haggard. Hallson and Olafsson stop briefly to fiddle with an amp, but to no avail. Gudjonsson looks especially forlorn, his sallow geatures steadily more wearily hangdog, as once again his should-be crystal piano parts become sludged, and his careful guitar playing is distorted.

Only the Leaves' last number of the night, the soaring and loud 'Shakma' survives the grating acoustics. It is brief justice for the band and the die hards down the front. In the right circumstances, and in a more sensitive environ, the Leaves could, however, have been magnificent.








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Commenting On: Liquid Room, Edinburgh, 12/5/2005 - Leaves








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