Ten years after he started and with his fifth studio album, Luke Leighfield is back in business. It hasn’t all been smooth-sailing, but with the fan-funded album V, Leighfield returns packing a pop-rock punch. Just three years ago, in mid-2012, it looked as though Leighfield’s musical dream was over. Sure, he’d had a good run, playing hundreds of shows across the globe, but four albums on he had become tired of music – or tired of touring – and found himself a day job instead (albeit one in the lights and sounds of Berlin). Luckily for his loyal fan-base, this wasn’t the end.
That loyal fan-base rallied around Leighfield and pledged £13,000 on Kickstarter towards the production of a new album. With their financial backing, it was off Ohio to record V with none-other than much-admired producer Jim Wirt (Jack’s Mannequin, Incubus). After falling in and out of love, as much as in his personal life as with music itself, Leighfield has used his wealth of experience to create 12 anthemic pop-rock tunes custom made for summer – almost making it ironic that he’s British.
As soon as the snare hits introducing album opener ‘Begin Again’ reaches your ears, the production quality sounds crisp and clear, the perfect delivery method for Leighfield’s brand of pop-rock. As a song it is simple but effective, there isn’t too much going on but what you can hear starts to get stuck inside your head. ‘Fading Fast’ does anything but fade, carrying on from where the opener left off with another perfectly package piece of pop. The range of instrumentals is a big bonus, as Leighfield doesn’t follow some solo acts in depending far too much on their preferred instrument and their vocals. ‘Fading Fast’ doesn’t cling to acoustic guitars, but pushes beyond with the introduction of keys and even a catchy electric guitar solo. The song structure is still simple, but the melodies are catchy, it is exactly what pop-rock is all about.
‘Fool for Love’, the lead single from V, sums up Leighfield’s sound perfectly. It brings with it a subtle backing of keys and sweeping melodies from an electric guitar, the perfect stage for vocals to come out front and centre. As well as the insatiable melodies, there also seems to be an emo-tinge to some parts of the album, particularly evident on ‘Oh, Canada’; a simple song of heartbreak (which, it should be added, features a horn section and somehow still comes off sounding sincere – bravo!)
I was worried that the album would drift away into a mire of pop sameness, but final and aptly-named track ‘Something Different’ leaves a lasting impression with a little more rock introduced to the pop. The sighs, regrets and heart-felt longing that can be found in other parts of the album are banished. I can only think that this must be the song that came into Leighfield’s head as he started to wonder whether he had left all of the music behind him, pondering life from an office in Berlin. The songs depth seems to come from ridding one’s self of the worries of the past and moving on, to something bigger and better. “I know that I was made for something different”, sings Leighfield, perhaps reflecting on all of that time sat behind a computer instead of sitting behind a piano in a recording studio.
Granted, V is nothing new. Leighfield’s pop-rock isn’t unique – I couldn’t help but hear elements of later Dashboard Confessional, and perhaps even a sprinkling of Hellogoodbye’s pop-monster for good measure – but it is really well done. There is simple songwriting, catchy melodies aplenty, and the expert production you would expect from Jim Wirt. If you like your pop with a large helping of rock, or you like your rock infected to the core with catchy pop melodies, V is for you.
4 out of 5 high fives!