Fans on Facebook launched a search for him, The OC episode he briefly appeared in received a plethora of hits on YouTube, but not a peep was heard. Now, after a six year hiatus, Tom Vek has re-emerged from the recording studio with his second album, Leisure Seizure. A lengthy lull leaves fans expecting Vek to deliver; his long-anticipated follow up to 2005’s We Have Sound seeks to prove it was worth the wait and banish the ever present ghost of ‘difficult second album’ syndrome.
Opener ‘Hold Your Hand’ begins a see-sawing electro-tinged melody before Vek’s trademark drawl kicks in with trance like sing-song aplomb over relentless percussion. ‘Aroused’ exudes a more danceable sensibility, filled with upbeat percussion and more than few shrill bleeps and sighs, but also the contrasting acerbic and sarcastic lyricism Vek displayed on We Have Sound; “Underneath the elephants in the room you were trampled, stampeded down,” making it a highlight on the album. Single ‘A Chore’ takes a while to appreciate. Falling into the ‘wounded break-up song’ category, it starts out with a near Orbital-esque intro which resounds throughout, glib lyrics (“you’re not really listening to me… and what you have perceived as life is no more than a chore”) would seem to mock the repetitive jingle-jangle of staccatoed keys and rumbling bassline. It will stick in the most stubborn heads, resist as you might.
‘World Of Doubt’ is a percussion-heavy, passive aggressive track, aided by Veks slick half-singing, half-speaking ramblings, which ends as abruptly as it starts; a recurring theme on the album – expect no great crashing crescendos here. ‘We Do Nothing’ is more than a little reminiscent of ‘CC (Set The Fire In Me)’ with its active use of loops, and ‘Someone Loves You’ bears slightly reminiscent of ‘Nothing But Green Lights’, only remixed and tweaked; it’s an infectious bubbly hook-laden tune.
Vek’s lesson in spelling ‘A.P.O.L.O.G.Y.’ may be perceived as a nod to the current zeitgeist (Noah And The Whale and Everything Everything love a good old spell-off). The track is a showcase for his one-man-band talents, featuring smatterings of guitar, fizzing keys, screwball synths, throbbing basslines and some gorgeously filthy drum beats.
‘Close Mic’ed’ adopts a slower, more sombre approach, with the focus on softer vocals presiding over snap-crackle-and-pop beats before hitting some haunting electro synth sounds. Closing track ‘Too Bad’ zips and shimmers with arcade laser sounds and that familiar low, rumbling bass. Vek’s growly Queens English sounds starkly polished against the backdrop of littered kabuki keys and perky percussion and the combination is infectious.
His sound may not have changed much – the formula from his debut album holds fast – but it is clear that Tom Vek has matured and become more versatile during his sabbatical of sorts. The post-punk grime and attitude is ever present, flanked by the unusual arrangements that only he can produce; but the creative chaos has been honed and refined to create a thoroughly polished album, with each track flowing seamlessly into the next. A few idle listens will leave Leisure Seizure bouncing about your brain for weeks to come, and surely Vek’s latest offering will satisfy fans cravings until his next release… however far away that is.