To be honest, I haven’t paid that much attention to Led Er Est at all. Their sound haven’t attracted me in any way, yet I decided to do a track-by-track review of their first release “Dust On Common” (now re-released by Mannequin Records) originally released on the New York label Wierd Records, in 2009. However, my initial reaction on their music will not affect how I review this record – it is all about how good or bad the songs are, individually – and how good the album is in general. The album is around 35 minutes long in total.
For a person that haven’t listened that much to Led Er Est, the first song “Bikini Fun” is catchy and gloomy at the same time. Even though the name of it is kind of inane, it doesn’t reflect in the atmosphere at all – the amped up and bleak vocals add a whole other dimension to the soundscape – together with flipped out guitar-riffs and solid, rhythmic drumming, minimalistic synthesizers warped in and out – together with a baseline that could break through walls – make for a thoroughly wild experience.
There’s a nice way to how they tweak everything, especially the vocals. It is a very nice mix between minimal synth and new wave music, at the same time that it wants to be uptempo and is – they keep the downtempo in terms of how the song progresses – going from a stripped environment to a concentrated barrage of all instruments at the same time. It does also fade out very nicely.
As “Port Isabel” comes on, it is a more straight-forward track. It starts off very good with riffs that are put in well, together with the constant synthesizer-stabs and steady rhythm – but then, suddenly, the vocalist enters – and everything goes downhill from there. What could’ve been an emotionally touching song turns into everything but. Maybe this song should’ve been named “Bikini Fun” instead of the first one – because with such a beautiful name and pleasant introduction – it shouldn’t be reduced to utter tripe. Moving on.
“Laredo” thankfully return the original song-style, which pairs much better with their music. It is a very oldschool-sounding and spastic atmosphere, giving back to the roots that started it off once. Minimal wave have never sounded better together with new wave, if that makes any sense. Instead of going too minimalistic with just the one synthesizer and the accompanying melody – they’ve added sweeping beauty to it and a perfectly laden guitar to match it up with.
It never goes out of style and one could listen to it over and over again. The song feels much longer then it really is. With solid melodies and anarchistic vocals – you can go very far, apparently. It is what Led Er Est prooves at least, with how they’ve constructed it musically. “Destination Sanity” is something entirely different, minimal in rhythm but bombastic in everything else from synthesizer to the outdrawn vocals. Connecting the dots where they left off with “Port Isabel“, adding to that even more of their own characteristic sound – the good one.
There are even some gothic-sounding acoustic guitar that paves the way for complex melodies to entwine and push the sound even further, larger then anything else that’s currently been covered. It evokes an emotional response that is sorrowful in one way, a tragicomic farce translated into music, by all means tragicomic in a way that is beautifully told musically. One is touched by the sheer wondrousness of it all, something to daydream away into.
Eerily similar to “Laredo” is the fifth song “The Unkept Area” – where the songstyle in “Port Isabel” actually fits with the running theme of it. One of the most catchy songs so far, mostly due to the more energetic performance by the vocalist, plus all the freakishly quirky synthesizers that would sound horrible if not layered on one another. The desperateness of the singer descend into a violent, chaotic mixture that make each part of the atmosphere change slightly, going more and more berserk.
What becomes noticeable as “Something For The Children” plays, is not only the irony of the song-name itself, but how they transcend genres completely and bend them to their will. This goes into noise and back again into minimalistic synth. But what would all that be without a post-punk baseline? Not sure, but they’ve layered it indistinguishable at points with the screechy noise, at times playing almost solo – giving it a melodic touch – together with the rhythm of the noise. Quite deranged in the end. Even more ironic is how it fades out and then becomes “I Wait For You” – which is different.
How different? In many ways. The rhythm isn’t pumped up to the max, but more steadily going, while the melodies are of secondary importance. The coldness of the minimalistic atmosphere is what glimmers in the dark. Clad in a remorseful outfit, it almost makes it ballad-like in all simplicity. But they way they manage to keep changing everything around, firstly with just a few tweaks here and there, finally breaking out the synthesizer to completely mesmerize the listener. One of my favorite tracks on the whole release so far.
“Scissors” is their definitive anthem. It is sad to hear how it goes down the same way that “Port Isabel” did. The vocals really don’t fit, they sound so off together with the wondrousness crafted with the drummachine and the synthesizers. There was an urgency in this song that allured to emotion – but as the vocals make their presence heard – one just wants to turn it off. Otherwise, had it not been like that, it would’ve been a great song. But no, sorry, it simply doesn’t fit with everything else and if anyone suggest it does – sure, it might, but in a very weird and unkempt manner.
“CC Exit” is all-in-all a nice medley, intermezzo if you will. A bridge which one would want to cross, to find out what is beyond it. Since I haven’t heard their other, later releases, it’s kind of an obstacle to describe it in relation to one another. But in regards to the album as such it is something that keeps you stunned, and motivated to seek out what comes next. Led Er Est have made an impression with this, first release. I weren’t too interested or thrilled to be listening to their music before, but this album prooves me wrong.
Well worth a buy from Mannequin Records now that they’ve re-released it. Buy it here. Listen to the album in full down below, to make up your own mind about it.