While Manchester’s musical history is an embarrassment of riches, Leeds’ is just an embarrassment. Manchester gave us Joy Division, The Smiths and The Happy Mondays. Its Yorkshire rival gave us Black Lace, Chumbawumba and The Music.
Young Leeds four-piece Juxtaposition can never fully atone for this sorry legacy, but this – their debut EP – is something city can be justly proud of.
Languorous opener ‘Tough Skin’ recalls the epic scope of early Suede, complete with ringing guitars and pounding drums – although vocalist Will Saunders’s voice resembles James’ Tim Booth rather than Brett Anderson.
Like fellow retro-philes Gomez, Juxtaposition display a musical talent that belies their age, from the ghostly piano motif on ‘Useless and Roses’ to the soaring background vocals on ‘Take a Holiday’.
Saunders’ lyrics seldom come close to making sense – “I placed your fingers in the mouth of / A sleeping lion’s love,” he declares at the start of ‘Chutney – but they’re delivered with such passion they feel important. “I saved you from the chutney on my plate,” he sings. You’re bloody grateful he did, though you haven’t the faintest idea what he means.
This EP is a heady infusion of escapism and arrogance, power and poetry. We’ve come a long way from ‘Agadoo’.
8Jon Smith's Score