Time grows more slippery with each passing year and despite my best intentions, I only recently remembered that I had downloaded the Reckless EP by LEATHERS for further listening several months ago. Rectifying the delay, this afternoon has been spent in awe of this lovely five-track EP which finds beautiful melodies in the shadows of its darkwave template. LEATHERS is the side project of ACTORS visual artist and musician Shannon Hemmett. Speaking of ACTORS, they just dropped their finest album yet with Acts Of Worship. So now, there are two incredible albums steeped in dark wave and post-punk that are quickly earning a spot on my personal Best Of lists for 2021.
So where should you begin? Well, that depends on your mood. If you lean towards the icy aesthetic of dark 80s pop, the LEATHERS EP is going to check all your boxes. Hemmett allows the synths to dance at a gentle pace and there is plenty of space in the music for her voice to reverberate around the room on tracks such as “Day For Night”. The noise turns more aggressive on “Missing Scene” which instantly had me imagining My Bloody Valentine covering “How Soon Is Now?”. It’s a song that demands you push your speakers to their limit. Closer “Dangerous” reprises opener “Reckless” which is the most pop-friendly of the bunch and should tickle fans of early Depeche Mode in a good way.
On Acts Of Worship, ACTORS expand their sound and it pays dividends. The funky bass is reminiscent of Duran Duran’s “Friends of Mine” and the chorus explodes with more color than the band has shared in the past. It’s a beautiful synth-rock track that gives ACTORS yet another angle with which they can present their art. No matter what your taste in 80s alternative, there is a better than good chance you are going to fall in love with ACTORS and Hammett’s side-project LEATHERS. If you pry your copy of Duran Duran’s Future Past off the turntable (or out of the CD player), these are two albums that will remind you of how much wonderful music is out there for us to enjoy in 2021. Let me know what you think!