Poland's Less Is Lessie bring us their debut full-length studio album, The Escape Plan, a concept album, which leads the listener through the vibrant streets of Wroclaw's Nadodrze district. To back-up the music, the CD booklet contains a map and some photos to guide and help you visualise the route.
As the band explains: "Nadodrze is full of contrasts where historical structures mingle with modern boutiques, bars and restaurants, and gloomy courtyards with various social art initiatives. At the first glimpse, the district overwhelms you with crowded and unpleasant street ambience, however our songs allow you to escape from that."
The concept is full of promise, but the execution falls well short of its goal. The album opens with a repeating bass synth hit interspersed with poorly mixed sound effects and a rather irritating computer voice acting as our “guide”. The first track Wyszyńskiego shows us everything that is wrong with this album throughout in a four minute highlight.
Musically the performances are fantastic. The rhythm section of Maciej Janiszewski on bass and Konrad Mikołajczyk on drums are solid, Weronika Kowal is absolutely incredible on violin, and Emil Madaliński on guitar and Filip Kozak on keyboards round out a tight and talented band. Kozak's vocals take some getting used to, but actually suit the various moods and colours of the pieces quite well.
One Minute At A Time and 20/20 are by far the best tracks on the album, and Blue Steel and Blue Steel (Less Is More) are also excellent, but as good as these tracks are they are interrupted by the narration tracks which utterly destroy any continuity or flow for the album. If they did away with all of the narration and the vast majority of the sound effects this would have been a top notch album and the concept could have still been intact. The album would be about 10 minutes shorter but we would be discussing this album along with some of the best of the year, unfortunately, as it is, it is, in my opinion a mediocre album with some fantastic tracks.
*** David Carswell
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