Spirit Level is the new CD album from Scottish folk-pop collective Randolph’s Leap. Spirit Level is an upbeat, melodic indie-pop album full of personality, catchy hooks and memorable lyrics, rich in textural, polyphonic arrangements, and capturing the infinite charm of Adam Ross, the leader of this 8-piece band. As a core songwriter with a large ensemble, Adam Ross may draw comparison with Stephin Merritt or Neil Hannon, while mining the rich Scottish seam of Postcard Records and C86. And as with contemporaries King Creosote or Withered Hand, is unafraid of drawing on folk music’s story telling tradition, detailing the minutiae of life’s fluctuations, here packaged up in glorious, anthemic and energetic pop.
The titular ‘spirit level’ is a steady reference point over what had been an unsettled spell writing the album, with Adam Ross uprooting from a decade in Glasgow to a tauntingly lopsided house in rural Aberdeenshire, navigating his way through shifting phases in his well-being and happiness, and reflecting on the untimely death of two greatly admired acquaintances. That balancing act came in the form of music, in an optimistic, even celebratory, collection of songs. The move to Aberdeenshire roots the album, with Let This Lie reflecting on mortality during a train journey along Scotland’s east coast, to the nostalgia of parts of a life left behind in Glasgow on Punchbag. Recorded over a period of a year in Glasgow with keyboard player Pete MacDonald engineering, mixing and producing the sessions at home, the album went off to mastering in the nick of time: the following night Pete’s flat went Up In Smoke in a massive fire, taking everything bar Pete (and his pet hedgehog, Frida) with it. Album opener Moment Passed, sets the tone for the whole record, with Adam’s protagonist struggling to present a balanced outward appearance while disorder bubbles beneath the surface.