Nick Carlisle has been incredibly prolific over the last three years with album releases in 2019, 2020 and now 2021. What’s remarkable is the consistent quality of his body of work. Lean Logic sees the Bamboo, Katy & Nick and Peepholes musician team up with multi-instrumentalist Rose Keeler Schäffeler (Keel Her). Keeler Schäffeler also released the superb ‘With Kindness’ in 2019. A brilliant multi-genre album that took in folk, synth pop, post punk and more. So, a match made in heaven for what is perhaps both of their most direct synth pop album yet. The Last Mirage, their debut album, follows the fantastic singles ‘Safe In A Dream’, ‘Man Made’ and ‘Mother Machine’.
The gigantic opening instrumental “Living Beings Pt 1” sets a majestic tone.
The ever present gated drums and repetitive synth bass hook are so satisfying we could be hypnotised by them for hours. The utterly brilliant ‘Safe In A Dream’ follows with it’s Low era Bowie-esque instrumental and a first taste of Keeler-Schäffeler’s soft, understated vocals. The guitar licks on this track are tight and funky in the verses, making way for haunting strings in the chorus. A fabulous pop song with a gloriously bold bass line.
The title track ‘The Last Mirage’ is more minimal, dominated by a chunky drum track. It takes off into a sumptuous and incredibly authentic 80s chorus. It feels like a long lost classic.
‘Mother Machine’ is similarly soft and sees Keeler Schäffeler harmonise with herself to stunning effect. It’s subtly intricate and beautifully crafted, adding string and horn sounds.
The gated drums return in a big way on ‘Man Made’, which previously served as a B-side to ‘Safe In A Dream’.
Combined with the simple bass line and reedy synth sounds this gem of a pop song, as the kids say, “slaps”.
There are hints of Bamboo to the atmospheric ‘Dissonant Beings’. The big pop hooks recall their massive single ‘Weeping Idols’. Keeler Schäffeler’s vocal floats on top in a similar vein to the much missed Trish Keenan. The aching ‘Conditional Love’ is a contemplative delicate piece with a distant, yet somehow punchy, sub-kick drum like a heartbeat. The piano and string arrangements, mixed with the repetitive backing vocals are lovingly constructed. For something so subtle and airy it’s incredibly striking.
The awesome 80s sounds return on the wonderfully warped soul of ‘Six Months’. The distant chanted backing vocals are gloriously pompous and an unexpected delight. There’s a phenomenal groove to it. ‘Modernity’ is a dreamier affair, harnessed by punchy drums. It delicately and moodily meanders through its 3 minutes 47 seconds, building towards a bent climax and nicely sets up the closing ‘Living Beings Pt 2’. Ending as they started, this version of the opener adds a gorgeous vocal to that awesome bass line and ice cold synth flourishes.
’The Last Mirage’ is carefully constructed, with a dreamy flow throughout. Lean Logic have created an album both subtle and powerful at the same time. There’s a massive heart behind the icy landscapes and funk tinged licks. An essential synth pop album for 2021.
What’s more, it’ll be aired for Tim Burgess’s ‘Tim’s Twitter Listening Party‘ on 1st June!
You may enjoy this if you like Bamboo, Broadcast, David Bowie
‘The Last Mirage’ is out 28th May via Tim Burgess’s O Genesis Records.