Randolph’s Leap – Cowardly Deeds [Olive Grove]

Is it too soon to describe Olive Grove Records as legendary? Over the past few years the independent Scottish label have put out a whole host of great releases by the likes of Jo Mango, and Woodenbox and now the long awaited second album from indie pop racket makers Randolph’s Leap.

The follow up to 2013’s Real Anymore finds the eight-piece taking to the country to record a brass-assisted record that they’ve described as exploring “the idea of fear and doubt being at the heart of decision-making”.

Opener, ‘Linger’ sets out the band’s stall early on, building on upbeat acoustic guitar, handclap drums, lilting vocals and tasteful fiddle, but what will really stick with the listener is how easy Randolph’s Leap make these arrangements and melodies seem.

With the complexity of capturing so many instruments at once, it’s hugely impressive that engineer Keith Holmes, was able to record these songs live.

‘Like a Human’ could be a lost Belle and Sebastian b-side (from the Push Barman era when that is high praise indeed), while ‘Not Thinking’ is led by brass and a prominent bassline with a singalong chorus.

As you would expect from a record that describes its key themes as “lost friendships, human nature, love, personal failings and silver linings” not every song is so upbeat.

‘Shreds’ is a mid-tempo ballad, given emotional heft by some melancholic brass, while the equally sorrowful ‘Under The Sun’ features a tremulous vocal and a lyrical nod to Alasdair Gray.

With its “boy you are sinner, finish up your dinner” rhymes ‘Goodbye’ manages to narrowly skirt the line between jangly Teenage Fanclub style indie pop and irritating twee, finishing up as probably the most divisive track on the record, but the follow-up ‘Microcosm’ is as close as they come to a straight up rocker, chanting “spent today embracing love” over more riotous brass and gang backing vocals.

The production is again impeccable on ‘Regret’, a piano and string assisted lament, though its chorus refrain “we talk about regret, you ain’t seen nothing yet” is perhaps a little predictable.

By the time of the closing track the band have found comfort in camaraderie, barely managing 30-seconds before they’re throwing everything at the wall and by the time you reach the end of this excellently crafted ten track record you’ll forgive them aiming for the back rows with an ascending vocal and brass duet that’s sure to be belted back at them wherever they find themselves this summer.

Excellent stuff indeed.

Words: Max Sefton

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