Love is a Landmine, the debut album from Sydney popsters I Know Leopard may’ve been a long time coming, but the results are definitely worth the wait.
Capitalising on the success of previous straight-up dreamy indie pop releases – the EPs Illumina and Another Life, and the stand-alone singles Let Go and Rather Be Lonely, the band have lurched headlong into the world of lush analogue synths and a 1970s soft rock sound that recalls the likes of Electric Light Orchestra, The Cars and a pinch of 10CC.
Frontman Luke O’Loughlin’s vocal delivery is equal parts Bowie and Lennon, too, but don’t go thinking these guys are mere revisionists – Love Is A Landmine is a paean to sounds past, seen through a prism of modernity, evidenced in no small part by the singles Landmine and Heather.
“It really has been a long time coming,” Luke told Newcastle Live. “It was about three years in the making and the reason for that was that we basically wrote and re-wrote the album again and again.
“I think we ended up with about 50 or 60 songs worth of demos.”
Luke added that, given that his parents’ record collection had been a focus of his obsession for some time, he wanted that to be reflected in Love Is A Landmine.
“There certainly are touchstones of ’70s soft rock and prog on the album and the decision going into the record was to explore those sounds in a really modern way,” he said.
At its heart, Love Is A Landmine is a collection of love songs but, as Luke explained, eschewed the saccharine sweet side of the love song to delve into much deeper, personal territory.
“It is an album of love songs – I’ve always connected to music through love songs, but I have experienced a lot of heartbreak in my life and I guess I wanted to explore the idea that while love can bring joy, it can also bring pain and alienation,” he said.
“I have also had issues with depression and mental health in the past and so I was also interested in looking at ideas around self love and how that comes into play with relationships with other people.
“It’s about the dichotomy of pleasure and pain – you can’t have one without the other.”
Love Is A Landmine was produced by Preatures guitarist Jack Moffitt and Luke said he forced the band to take a different approach in the studio.
“He really encouraged us to embrace our imperfections,” Luke said.
“When we went in to record, Jack really wanted us to track everything live, whereas previously we had been more of a recording project band. The end result though, we think is much bolder and a much better reflection of what we do live.”
Love Is A Landmine is out on Friday 5 April.
Catch I Know Leopard when they play at the Cambridge Hotel on Thursday 30 May. Get your tix here.