April 6, 2020

Our lives are made up of various elements and parts; people, pets, work, our homes. They all have a colour; a shape and they vary in size. It is up to us to make our lives into works of art, using all these parts and elements, to make the complete picture.

This is the ‘mission statement’ of Dutch art-rock quintet Lesoir, who will release a long awaited new album Mosaic on May 4th. This will be the band’s fifth studio album and follow-up to 2017’s Latitude on the Glassville label. Lesoir were formed in 2009 in Maastricht with their self-titled debut album released in 2011. The band consists of Maartje Meessen (vocals, flute, piano), Ingo Dassen (guitar). Eleen Bartholomeus (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion), Ingo Jetten (bass) and Bob van Heumen (drums).

I’m not very sure at what point prog becomes art-rock, and how one would try to describe that! This album features a mixture of atmospheric light and shade, guitar work that is by turns both delicate and more riff-driven with some interesting overlaying licks; the arrangements themselves very tuneful and melodic – and most vocals by a female duo. Actually, listening to the title track, there are distinct shades of Muse here, not remotely surprising when you see that the album was produced by John Cornfield (Muse, Supergrass, Ben Howard and Robert Plant) and Paul Reeve (vocal producer of Matt Bellamy). It was recorded in just ten days at Airfield Studio, St. Merryn, Cornwall, UK by War Of the World guitarist Jo Partridge, and for me has a style not dissimilar to fellow Dutch band The Dame, and the UK’s The Pineapple Thief and Public Service Broadcasting.

This latest album from the band has a more progressive flavour that prioritises melody over the anger that they sometimes previously dwelt on. There’s a nice balance between lyrics, melody, composition and rock, resulting in a musical set that is impressively wide-ranging and surprisingly touching. The album weaves an ethereal, otherworldly landscape of emotional, dreamy art-rock decorated with light progressive elements and some heavier riffs sprinkled throughout, inspired by the band’s 2019 tour with Polish band Riverside.

‘In the months that followed the tour, a lot of blood, sweat and tears were poured into the creation of Mosaic‘, offers Lesoir vocalist Maartje Meessen. ‘The result is an emotional, open and honest record, and our most dynamic release to date. We really wanted to capture and recreate the energy of our live performance on record; Something that would seal the elation of being on the stage, in the heat of the moment, without thought for the blueprints of the ever-restrictive confines of genre definition’.

From dealing with the irreversible march of time (the opener, Mosaic) to the awkwardness of a difficult childhood (Two Faces) and the struggle to live and maintain a simple and rewarding life (Is This It?), Mosaic ambles with a sense of curiosity through the hills, valleys and forests of life, taking pause to reflect on the ever-present delicate balance of harmony and discord.

Protest songs (Measure of Things) lie side-by-side with more innocent observations of life (It’s Never Quiet) and the admiration of the natural order of things (The Geese). With nearly ten years between the release of their debut album and this fifth full-length album, Lesoir are eager to suggest that Mosaic is the album that has finally captured the true flavour of the various interlocking elements of their collective lives and experiences.

Update: second video added – of the song Somebody Like You. This gives you a much better idea of the live dynamics of the band:

Whether on stage, or in the studio, Lesoir have a really strong connection as a band and this shines through in their music, and Mosaic deliberately strives for new levels of dynamism and emotion to capture the energy from their live performances. These are five passionate musicians who love the art of creating something from those passions without worrying about musical styles. In that respect, and in the sheer quality of their musicianship, they have much in common with their Dutch colleagues The Dame, recently warmly reviewed in these pages!

The more I play this album, the more it grows on me. Mosaic will be released on May 4 worldwide via Glassville Records. Lesoir are a hard working band deserving of some attention, and they have a major European tour planned – now re-arranged to take place in the Autumn. Sadly, only three of the original five UK dates have been confirmed so far (November -time), so catch them if you can!

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