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The Leisure Society

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Song 1 : YouTube

Song 2 : YouTube

Song 3 : YouTube

Being in a band isn’t always easy. It’s even trickier when two of the band members are in a serious relationship. It’s even trickier again when that relationship breaks down. During the promotion of The Leisure Society's 4th album, The Fine Art of Hanging On, songwriter Nick Hemming and the band's flautist Helen Whitaker went through a long process of separation that resulted in Nick moving out of their Brighton home. 

“I was living out of a suitcase for much of 2016/17, staying with friends and family,” said Hemming. “My chaotic personal life seemed to mirror the chaotic social and political climate, which fed into the songs to some extent." 

This displacement set the tone for the next 18 months, as Nick moved from one temporary accommodation to the next, writing and recording demos constantly as he came to terms with the break up. The band captured the foundations of 16 of these songs at Konk (their favourite London studio), then hauled their gear all over the place to capture overdubs, vocals and production ideas. Setting up camp in rented and borrowed houses in the Peak District, the Cotswolds and even in a medieval mansion in Richelieu, France, they also snuck into Union Chapel in Islington late at night to capture strings and choral sections. 

The new double-album Arrivals & Departures has two quite distinct sides – loss and anger. "In our minds, it’s clearly a double album" the band explained. "We’ve had a sequence in mind for a while, with 8 ‘classic’ Leisure Society songs making up the first album (Arrivals) and 8 angrier, more experimental songs making up the second album (Departures)".

Going a little deeper on some of the lyrical inspiration behind the new album, Nick said: "I spent one restless night following the US election results on Christian's sofa. Before I left in the morning I scrawled on a Post-it, "Donald Trump is the American President!?!" I spent the following night drinking heavily and bashing out 'There Are No Rules Around Here'. It really seemed like anything was possible, no matter how depraved."

During the recording process, Helen came to Konk and recorded parts for the album. As she put it, "I couldn’t have lived with someone else doing it". It was a difficult, almost surreal session, as she heard, for the first time, Nick’s raw perspective on their separation. Speaking on Helen's work on Arrivals & Departures - the band said - "We’re so happy that she was able to get through that, because like her, we couldn’t have lived with anyone else doing it". 

The album also features synth textures from Brian Eno (who championed the band from the very beginning) on 'I’ll Pay For it Now'. The band's fellow Midlander and go-to brass guy Nick Etwell leads the horn sections, with the band also enjoying a reunion with harpist Tamara who featured on The Leisure Society's second album Into The Murky Water (also joining them at The Barbican when they collaborated with The Heritage Orchestra in 2011). Heritage cellist Ben Trigg appears, alongside founding Willkommen members Marcus Hamblett, Emma Gatrill and Kristin McClement (whose debut album Christian produced a few years ago). 

The album was mixed by Gareth Jones, who the band sought out based on his work on Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest (he’s also mixed/produced Erasure, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, Wire, These New Puritans to name a few.) Speaking on their work together the band said: "This is the first time we’ve really let go of our tight rein on mixing, and we’re incredibly pleased we did. Gareth has brought a new level of depth and energy to our music." Additional mixing work was provided by Paul Gregory - perhaps known best for his work with Lanterns On The Lake.

Arrivals & Departures is the The Leisure Society’s most ambitious and diverse record to date, charting the journey from heartbreak, to anger, to hope, in 57 lavish minutes.