Leopold and His Fiction | Ain’t No Surprise
Most Likely To: change your normal state of glamorously disconnected apathy into a southern-fried state of glamorously disconnected apathy… but not much more than that, really.
Q: Leopold and His Fiction is a good band. Ain’t No Surprise is a good record. So what the fuck is your problem, Dr. Helm?
A: My problem? MY problem? Fuck you, good sir, that’s my problem.
Yes, it is true what you say about Leopold and His Fiction. They are a good band, and to hell with me if Ain’t No Surprise doesn’t have some true “bangers” scattered throughout. In fact, some of what is present is fantastically good. Songs like “One For Me To Find” and “Pretty Neat” take what would be mildly derivative wanderer-troubadour fare (think friendly, bearded men wearing vintage boots and crooning in lovable alley-cat voices) and marry them to surprisingly subtle arrangements that sound like the kind of thing this genre’s standard bearers (all hail Lord Banhart!) would be churning out if they weren’t too preoccupied with plowing some of the world’s most gorgeous women. Yes, yes, Leopold and His Fiction can be one delicious dish when they put their minds to it.
The problem as I see it is that for some reason Leopold and His Fiction choose, more often than not, to limp when they are more than capable of sprinting. As unconventional and truly noteworthy as parts of Ain’t No Surprise eventually turn out to be, it can become difficult to sift through the grime to find the glitz. Nothing is particularly offensive – there are no caustic gratings that reject the ear outright – in fact the greater product, even when not soaring to new heights is serviceable folk rock all around. But aside from the extreme high points I mentioned earlier, much of Ain’t No Surprise follows the rules too closely and bears too striking a resemblance to lesser works by better peers and contemporaries.
Simply put, a great deal of Ain’t No Surprise ends up sounding like the kind of product that the Jesse Elliots of the world literally shit out on a daily basis – the difference being that the Jesse Elliots of the world generally take the time and have the insight to carefully craft something beautiful out of that initial turd.
Yes, Leopold and His Fiction are a fine band who’ve made a fine record. But as indicated by gems like “Pretty Neat,” the band is capable of much more when they put their minds to it. If Leopold and His Fiction let themselves breathe a bit more and possibly throw some of their ideas back into the oven for awhile, they have the capacity to turn into something truly special. Until then, well, lets just be thankful we live in the age of the selective playlist.
Listen to “Come Back (Now That I’m Here)” from Leopold and His Fiction: