The Lansdowne Hotel, 21/09/17.
A Celebration of Celestial 70’s Dream-Pop, Whatever That Means.
Disclaimer: This review is probably biased because Luke signed my shirt.
“Celestial 70’s inspired pop tunes” is what Triple J described the sound of I Know Leopard. I too wondered what the hell the word “celestial” has to do with the Sydney-based four-piece indie pop outfit. But when I went to see the band for their ‘Let Go’ tour, it made sense – somewhat.
The intimate show at the Lansdowne Hotel was perfect for the celebration to the end of their tour, which served as an entrée to the stuff they’re planning to drop in the future. Although their sound hasn’t really changed much since their ‘Unearthed’ days in 2014, this isn’t really a bad thing. Their signature 70’s beat and easy melodies still remain fresh and relevant today without seeming like a copycat version of countless indie bands in the industry.
The band reminded Sydney how enthralling their sound is by easing the audience into ‘Spaceships’ from their 2015 second EP, ‘Another Life’ to kick of the night. The song’s complexity showed in the way they blend their breathy voices with harsher syncopated synths and the distant wailing of the guitar. It may seem like an odd mix of styles, but it works for them.
Maintaining the same vibe, ‘Close My Eyes’ showcased lead vocals Luke O’Loughlin and backup Jenny McCullagh who floated together through the verses and soared during the high notes of the chorus. In that moment, I realised that the experience of a live performance is unbeatable. The appreciation of the dark yet sweet charm of the song can only be felt with the force of sound that filled the small dark room of the Lansdowne.
After that journey, IKL landed back down with ‘Another Life’ as they went back to their signature dreamy vibe. This gave them the opportunity to just focus on the musicality, with a more passionate take on the vocals and accompanied by the wailing of Jenny’s sorrowful violin, which did add to that “celestial” dreamy vibe.
Luke made a point to give the stage to band member Rosie with a couple of fun facts in which we found out that a) she is the coolest member of the band and that b) it was her birthday that night. Of course, this was the cue for the audience to launch into a hearty Happy Birthday song for the blushing bassist.
It’s not just their dreamy vibe that sets IKL apart, the charm of their more pop-infused tracks are warm and fuzzy as it is reminiscent of retro styles that we used to listen to. Their newer tracks “Rather Be Lonely” and latest single, “Let Go” shows their versatility of styles, which the audience clearly appreciated as they danced as if in a trance.
What we thought was the peak of the night, didn’t end there. The audience was ready when the band launched into favourite, ‘Perfect Picture’ with a rhythm so catchy and infectious. Luke’s deep, sexy voice guided us as we bopped along to the song we’ve enjoyed so many summer days to. No doubt that song reminded us of the I Know Leopard we first fell in love with, and definitely left us wanting more.