It’s not easy to hone an incredible technical complexity and still put a face to the world that’s unassuming—but if anyone’s done it, it’s Leapling. The project of Brooklyn’s Dan Arnes made strides last year with the full-length Vacant Page, a glimmering collection of unsettled, dynamic songs with creeping basslines by a four-piece with Arnes’ voice close at the fore. Now a trio with drums from Alejandro Salazar Dyer and bass from R.J. Gordon, Leapling are renewing their streak of gentle complexity with a second LP, Suspended Animation.
Suspended animation is the slowing or stopping of vital functions without death, and Leapling have mastered this skill and folded it into their dynamic. Arnes bares a soft but commanding voice with the telling line “I decide when it begins” on the record’s opener, the instrumentation cutting out around him for just that moment before a warm rain of sound falls back down. Clear moments of isolation like this take on a sense of live immediacy, even when confused feelings rear their heads. On “Shakin'” Arnes admits bluntly, “I am not the person I wanted to be,” but the unfiltered groove of the guitar backing that lonely admission is enough to ward off the identity crisis for a bit.
The record teems with the control and energy of classic power pop, finding the band taking a more forward, more immediate and downstroke-heavy approach that still doesn’t eschew nuance. “Alabaster Snow” has the ring of some guitars reminiscent of Big Star, and the flanged guitars on the following track assume a familiar jangle. But there’s a subdued piano on the title track, and on the closer a blooming orchestral arrangement envelops the grooving bass and stammering drum line. Any lingering uncertainty is brought to a temporary halt when Arnes calmly assures, “They say that nothing’s ever free / but time keeps tickin’ / I think I’ll be stickin’ with you.” It’s a reminder that it’s OK to want to preserve things as they are for a while, and more possible than we sometimes realize.
You can hear the full album below. Suspended Animation is due out June 10 via Exploding In Sound, with a release show to follow on June 18 at Palisades with Two Inch Astronaut, Long Beard, and Joy Again.