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Leerone adds flair to indie genre

Stephanie DePrez | Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Leerone is the latest indie-chick to come bantering across the music scene. She carries with her a bag of lyrical tricks just persuasive enough to convince you her melodies aren’t juvenile and wields piano skills just subtle enough to trick you into thinking that you aren’t listening to Tori Amos Lite.

Leerone would like you to believe that she is the real deal, or maybe the next P.J. Harvey in suspenders. Her appeal is in the weirdness, as most indie bands today have found: Instead of finding a niche, create your own. Unfortunately, if everyone is doing it, it’s no longer fun for us, the listener. It is possible, though, to ignore the fact that Leerone might be trying just a bit too hard to look like she isn’t trying at all, and to simply enjoy her music.

She would also like you to believe that her new album, “Imaginary Biographies,” is everything you’ve been yearning for and all the quirkiness you’ve been missing. And to a point, she’s right. Though her music may never be able to break out of the indie role it’s so clearly slated for, it tends to jump politely between a reverent tribute to the great pioneer of female singer/songwriters, Tori Amos, and the irreverent disgust of the very audience-specific Dresden Dolls. Leerone has moments so soft and terrific that it seems like you’ve drifted into a Vanessa Carlton album. She also provides the motivation that will have you swearing she’s a “Riot Grrl” who’s kept this album locked tight somewhere for the past 15 years.

The biggest draw in Leerone’s music is her lyrics. “Plant, tend, pick and share the love you have/ Ingest the love you are given/ Then, recycle and distribute again/ It’s love, in motion … Kinetic love,” she sings. The melodies become subservient to her hopeful criticism of life today. The song “Junk/Peace of Mind” opens with a very low-key piano riff that meanders aimlessly until she begins to explain. “I don’t care too much for Golden Globes/ I don’t care what People magazine has to say about its top hats or the rhetoric of stardom,” Leerone sings, making you wonder if she’s serious. Lyrics like this wander in and out of the album, broken up by heartfelt observations and matter-of-fact whining.

The music has moments of jarring clarity. “Care For Some Whiskey?” is an instant trip to some eastern European bar with jabbing chords – and an accordion – that give every other beat a satisfying punctuation. Certain tracks could have been lifted straight from a failed Off-Broadway show, like “Bring It On,” and others, like “Rosie Lee,” are deceivingly sweet with haunting lyrics.

In its entirety, “Imaginary Biographies” is a strange excursion into indie-rock’s future. It’s not radio music, because it’s made for active listening. This also isn’t music for the casual listener.

To play this album and ignore it is hardly doing it justice – it’s worthy of at least one sitting. Plus, it would make quite a gift for any musically inclined intellectual if you haven’t a clue what to give this Christmas.