Among the small pleasures of listening to music, it’s satisfying when an album title perfectly encapsulates the narrative played out in the track list. Such is the case with Lesoir‘s fifth album Mosaic, a collage of art rock and prog highlighted by a theatrical delivery and themes of mystic whimsy. Points of comparison for Lesoir’s music don’t fully capture the unique ways that the quintet lays out these elements. Each of the album’s tracks display lush, beautiful compositions as expansive as they are immediate.
There are indeed some parallels that can be drawn to how other bands approach these stated genres. Think of the light prog/dark alternative pioneered by bands like Anathema alongside shades of Muse and Leprous with the heaviness dialed up and down, respectively. Yet, the true defining trait of Lesoir’s music is the dual-vocal performances of Maartje Meessen and Eleën Bartholomeus. Their phrasing and placement within the music might recall Einar Solberg for some, though their voices are defined by the power and personality of a theatrical delivery.
The duo’s bandmates help match this distinct style with equally grandiose songwriting, creating a stage-ready (art) rock opera without a script. The title-track opens the album with a sequence of building musical motifs befitting an accompanying narrative. In particular, the track’s crescendo boasts strong vibes of The Beatles‘ psych pop era, almost like a Sgt. Peppers for this generation of prog fans. “Is This It” progresses in a similar fashion and features a statement chorus that feels like a protagonist drawing a line in the sand. A personal favorite is “The Geese,” a gorgeous song that grows from isolated, folksy guitar into a massive chorus and instrumental swell.
The Fab Four aren’t the only classic group whom Lesoir draw influence from. Shades of the psych, prog, and acoustic aspects of Pink Floyd‘s post-Barrett era pop up throughout the album, especially on “Dystopia,” the album’s centerpiece instrumental track. Besides some thematically appropriate spoken word, the band prove they can create an epic track without vocals and excel in the process. Yet, even when they’re not contributing vocals, Meessen (flute, piano, acoustic guitar) and Bartholomeus (guitar, percussion, keyboards) are still very much in the instrumental mix on the album.
The flute passages Meessen provides are particularly effective, especially on “It’s Never Quiet.” Whether she’s adding to the atmosphere or taking the spotlight, her playing is equally effective and well-placed. The track is arguably the album’s best example of Lesoir’s fantastical edge, thanks to a chorus of cooing vocals and Meessen’s dancing flute. Though subtle, the mystical air that runs through Mosaic helps bolster the album’s beauty and scope. It adds texture to the band’s already diverse blend of styles.
Though pulling from classic traditions within rock’s artsier subgenres, Lesoir carve their own path and create a fresh, vibrant album. It’s a wonder that this is my first time hearing of a band that’s been honing their craft for the past decade. Anyone interested in Lesoir’s genre niche and looking for a creative iteration of that blueprint should also take note of their efforts on Mosaic and prepare for the band’s next installment of bold, expansive prog.
Mosaic is available May 1 via GlassVille Records. You can purchase physical copies here.