Spirit of Leo’s “Anastasia”: Music review

This 2013 Spirits of Leo​ album, “Anastasia,” has at times a slightly pacier feel than 2014’s EP, and is overall a more thoughtful and fuller product than the 2014 EP.
The influences of the Cure, discernible throughout, are particularly noticeable in, say, “Dead Limbs of Winter”’s clean, echoey, reverb tone of the guitar, the touches of chorus and the swirling synth, the intertwining guitar riffs, the way the lower octave of the bass is introduced later in the track. This all feels like it has a definite ancestry in tracks like “Lullaby” and “Pictures of You” from The Cure’s seminal “Disintegration” album. “Ghost Story”’s industrious drum beat nods in the direction of The Cure’s “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.”
Even though you can hear a Joy Division / Cure style synth on “Elysian Fields,” Spirits of Leo has a certain balance which I’m reluctant to classify as bouncy optimism, but there’s something that holds songs like this back from entering that desolate place that is the domain of so much of Joy Division and The Cure. Spirits of Leo has taken a much broader influence from the 80s, infusing poppier lighter elements – for example, you can hear a brief touch of Annie Lennox’s “Here comes the rain again” in the synth violins on “Idle Talk.”
The final track, “Spirits of Leo,” featuring vocals over a softly strummed acoustic guitar with subtle electric touches and what sounds like a brief nylon-string solo, is simply a beautiful end to the album. This track would fit right into the most poignant center of any mid-90s indie rock heart-ache album from, say, Buffalo Tom or Dinosaur Jr. There’s even something of The Smiths’ “This Charming Man” in the effect this song has on the listener, and the song is a powerful way to fade out and leave you washed up on the shores after tumbling around in the darkwaves.


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