Artist/DJ: The Sick Leaves
Album: Last Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy
Year of Release: 2010
While Eksteen Jacobsz, the musician known to the public as The Sick Leaves, has always had a knack for writing catchy pop songs and is seriously dedicated to his craft, the previous two albums (“Tunnel Vision” and “Stone The Crow”, released in 2006 and 2008 respectively) seemed to be reaching for heights that remained just out of reach, even while showing great promise.
Personal opinions aside however, those albums managed to make The Sick Leaves a household name in South Africa, garnering two SAMA nominations and plenty of rotation on air. But with “Last Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy”, it seems that producer Darryl Torr has nailed the sound that best displays Jacobsz’ considerable talents, on an album that manages to be polished and layered while still retaining a good dose of stripped down rock ‘n roll power.
Released early in March this year and distributed nationally through Electromode, “Last Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” has already received favourable reviews from various quarters, and seems set to cement The Sick Leaves reputation as an act to watch in 2010. Torr’s production is unerringly on the mark, and the lengthy pre-production process that he and Jacobsz put the material through has paid off handsomely.
Tracked over the course of a month at Torr’s Openroom Productions, housed in the SABC’s Studio M5 in Joburg, the album hangs together well as a whole, and the songs are short and to-the-point. Catchy riffs and choruses abound, underpinning Jacobsz’ distinctive vocals and often cryptic lyrics, which at times contain hints of the sound of a young Bono, and even Frank Black (or is that Jack White?). Mention must also be made of the great rock drumming on the album, courtesy of collaborator Wayne Pictor, and Sean Brand’s incredible photography which adorns the CD sleeve.
The album kicks off with the blistering “All you want”, and sustains a fairly relentless pace from there, only pausing for breath in the slow-grooving “Run away”. There’s a nod to classic rock in “Heartland”, while “Tell it like it is” and “Come and go” (among others) are tracks that will inject some mosh into your morning drive.
“Last Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” is a satisfying listen, and is definitely not only for the skinny jeans brigade – with its sing-along choruses and infectious riffs, this album should capture a broader listenership for The Sick Leaves than ever before.
Cover: 5/5 | Technical: 5/5 | I like it rating: 9½/10
MIO Rating: 4/5