The Leaf Library’s debut is hypnagogic dream pop, immersing you in warm and fuzzy textures, and suffused by a mood of great British melancholy. The music is hazy and impressionistic but conjures the gloomy atmospheres familiar to people who’ve visited the Lake District and Suffolk coast, which particularly inspired this record. You can still hear the Broadcast and Stereolab influence of their early material but this album has a more hauntalogical, hypnotic effect, full of natural themes and observations (water, seasons, phases of the moon) and tipsy with a drowsy beauty.
The opening track ‘Asleep Between Stations’ sets out their stall: rhythmic and droning, inducing a hypnotic state before the bursts of brass recall you. ‘Sailing Day’ is drowsy, narcoticised pop, swathed in electronica and precisely picked guitar, a slow and mournful tune that would lull you to sleep at night. ‘Slow Spring’ is full of dreaming, droning electronica and very atmospheric, while ‘Rings of Saturn’ goes beyond atmosphere, a spacerock Radiophonic Workshop journey of hypnotic repetition and murmuring vocals, as if they’d composed the soundtrack to some NASA film of the outer solar system. ‘Pushing/ Swimming’ is more experimental, full of gently pulsing soft synths and clanking electronica while ‘Summer Moon’ is positively pop, with a rhythmic beat, gorgeous viola, honeyed chorus and lines about “England sleeps as the seas roll in” that remind you of PJ Harvey’s exploration of nationalism.
It’s a wonderful record to sink into, slowly intoxicating you with the moods it evokes. Like the best travel writing, it takes you to the places it describes and paints them in such vivid imagery that your real world dissolves and you’re transported to these fantasy places. It’s perfect accompaniment for those slow winter evenings when it’s too cold to go out but you want to be elsewhere.