Leap Day – Treehouse

Posted 11122

Review Lex Dresianes

Treehouse is the sixth studio album by Dutch symphonic rock band Leap Day. Who seem to improve time and again with every new album, clearly audible this time as well. I've always been a fan of the melodic sound of the northerners, especially both From The Days Of Deucalion albums I find of excellent quality.

The music of Leap Day is characterized by irresistible melodies and a well-balanced and varied musical sound. We’ve seen some personnel changes since the last album Timelapse from 2018. New singer Hans Kuypers makes for a considerable improvement, nothing to the detriment of former singer Jos Harteveld, but Leap Day's music deserves a better singer. Moreover, a new bassist has joined, Harry Scholing, replacing Peter Stel.

Opening track Like Icarus, immediately shows what Leap Day stands for: a symphonic intro in the vein of IQ/Pendragon, excellent duets between keyboards and guitar, brilliant work by guitarist Eddie Mulder and new vocalist Hans Kuypers. There’s tension in the music but also in the lyrics; it is about a tragic fire in 2010 in a building in New Orleans, United States, in which eight young squatters were killed. Great opener, clocking in at almost eleven minutes, unfortunately the documentary style summary at the end, containing the names of the victims, takes away the flow from the song, however touching and sincere,

The next track, Clementine, is a completely different song, an ominous intro turns into a more rocking song featuring Eddie Mulder and his Mike Holmes (IQ) related guitar playing in a leading role. I don't particularly like Hans Kuypers’ voice in this song, he is struggling with the low rangeduring the verses. The chorus is once again catchy and very melodic. A Peter Gabriel-esque intro with deviant electronic rhythms during Raining. Kuypers once again does his best to reach the high notes, which he just about manages. Atmospheric ballad with a lovely melody, somewhat reminiscent of Big Big Train, mainly because of the use of (electronic) horns. Surprising shredder sounds from Mulder halfway through send the song more in the progressive metal direction. But the band retraces its steps with symphonic keyboards and the original coda. A lost love is the lyrical theme.

Title track Treehouse is one of the best songs on the new album and a personal favorite. In terms of content, it is about a self-built tree house, but it’s actually more about the memories of a happy carefree childhood. Another catchy melody that the band seems to have patented, but the harmony vocals could and should be better. Has the potential of becoming a classic with its sing-along chorus, and great duet between vintage keys and guitar, I'm repeating myself. Provided with a degree of humor as well: the techno tune that got out of hand, whereas the mistake (or joke) is recognized just in time, tribute.

Another wonderfully lingering and hip-swaying intro for May 5th, alternating between guitar and keys; these guys understand how to come up with the good (neo-prog) stuff. The song is about memories of a Liberation Day Festival in Friesland, Holland, when the English melodic rock band Magnum performed as main act. Including strange low inflections of Kuypers’ and Indian sounds. And once again those trumpets, actually sounding very good, could well be here to stay.

The closing Autumn is one of the absolute highlights of the album, at twelve minutes, also by far the longest track. Beautifully nostalgic and melancholic song with strong lyrics, again about childhood memories. In which Eddie Mulder, again, demonstrates his fabulous technique and feeling. Moving atmospheric images with colors, scents and flavors that tempt me to smile. I am certainly not a farmer's son from Friesland, more a retailer’s son from the big city, but the sketch of a family during dinner with stew on the table also appeals to my imagination. We are presented with an undisguised piece of Supertramp, complete with Wurlitzer piano and chorus, quite funny. Exciting IQ-like sounds from the vintage keyboards (Mellotron) of both keyboardists, driving drums, subdued bass playing and a ripping guitar enhance the feeling of nostalgia. Goosebumps and top marks for this epic song which can be considered one of the band's best.

The lyrics are good and recognizable, apparently the gentlemen lyricists were in a nostalgic mood. But the English translation/rendition leaves much to be desired. This in turn leads to difficult pronunciation, unexpected twists and turns and wrong accents. Only six songs in about 56 minutes, an average playing time of over nine minutes. This turns out to be more than enough to work out the compositions well and offer sufficient depth, tempo and mood changes, compliments.

Nothing but praise, again many beautiful and recognizable tunes that will remain in your head for weeks. Brilliant guitar and keyboards, I especially like the subtle balance between the two. I don't know to whom to attribute those great keyboard solos, so this has to be shared praise for both Gert van Engelenburg and Derk Evert Waalkens. The latter deserves extra kudos because he is pretty much single-handedly responsible for a large part of the music as well as the entire production and mix. Quite a man of many talents. The rhythm tandem of veteran drummer Koen Roozen and aforementioned new bassist Harry Scholing lays a solid foundation, without standing out and that's exactly how it should be.

Another excellent album by these musicians from the High North of Holland. Somehow however, I’m left with this nagging feeling that this could have been promoted from an excellent album to the ‘exceptional’ category if the vocals (at times) but especially the English lyrics had been on a higher level. Surely it must be possible for a talented and experienced band like Leap Day to attract a professional singer and an English native speaker, responsible for the lyrics?

TRACK LISTING

01. Like Icarus (10:43)
02. Clementine (8:51)
03. Raining (7:30)
04. Treehouse (9:24)
05. May 5th (7:24)
06. Autumn (11:58)

Total Time – 55:50

MUSICIANS

Gert van Engelenburg – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Hans Kuypers – Vocals
Eddie Mulder – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Koen Roozen – Drums
Harry Scholing – Bass
Derk Evert Waalkens – Keyboards, Backing Vocals

http://www.leapday.nl/

https://leapday.bandcamp.com/album/treehouse