Release Date: Sep 25, 2012
Record label: Lefse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk, Chamber Pop
An Australian colleague and author of a recent book on Cesar Franck recently pointed out a brilliant quote from Camille Saint-Saens that serves as a good entré to the album under discussion: “Why cannot we understand that in art, there are some things to which we must not accustom ourselves?” I’ve gotta admit, the first few listens of Look A Little Closer didn’t leave much in the way of a lasting impression. I didn’t devote much attention to it initially, listening in chunks on headphones walking to and from various things, and didn’t sit down in front of a real sound system for a proper airing for about a week. That’s not to say I wasn’t surprised by things, notably the combination of vocal harmonies resembling early-70s baroque folk (or more recently a band like Midlake), funk grooves, and a Dave Sitek-like firmament.
Levek's David Levesque guides his band's first album Look a Little Closer with a steady and skilled hand. Searching back through the past 40 years of smooth, trippy, autumnal sounds and cherry-picking the perfect elements, the album is an enchanting mix of easy listening psychedelia, sleepy bossa nova, rustic chamber pop, and nocturnal indie folk. Sometimes conjuring up the woodsy ghost of Crosby, Stills & Nash, sometimes weaving a misty spell that feels like a wood cabin-recorded take on Odessey & Oracle and other times operating like a Laughing Stock-era Talk Talk with no budget but a surplus of imagination; the record creeps into your consciousness over repeated plays and takes a firm hold on the center of your brain that wants to hear music that sounds the way burning leaves smell.
If you look up “easy listening” a picture of Levek’s debut album, Look A Little Closer will be next to it. David Levesque and company have created a sound that can relax even the most stressed-out person. The opening track “Black Mold” transports listeners into a world that seemed to be left in the ‘70s. Levesque’s soft and subtle vocals are backed by his psychedelic-rock sound; if a lava lamp could like a song, it would be this.
David Levesque's debut as Levek might top even Kanye West's Cruel Summer in terms of missing its optimum release window. Now the guy's from Orlando, so perhaps he doesn't realize that most people have taken their parties indoors at this point. Shame, too, since this thing is not only the kind of affably stoned baked goods that could take a barbecue's chumminess to the next level, it's pretty much exactly the kind of guest you'd want there, too: He brings nothing but the most chill vinyl; if he doesn't have anything nice to say, he doesn't say it; he doesn't try too hard to impress his will on others; and he leaves before he wears out his welcome.
The oddest of odd jobs have a tendency to form a solid foundation for a rich artistic career later on, it seems: Charles Bukowski worked as a mailroom clerk, immortalized in his debut novel Post Office, while Shigeto’s Zach Saginaw (literally) cut cheese at an artisan cheese shop in London before experimenting with MPCs. In the same vein, Florida’s David Levesque formerly drove an elementary school bus before embarking on his solo electronically tinged project, Levek. Through a whimsical ride through musical disciplines on his debut Look A Little Closer, including trippy psych-pop and dramatic chamber-pop vocals, it’s actually not all that different from those playful days riding the bus to school.