New wave is dead and someone has to take up the torch. Enter Leverage Models, an obscure act out of New York with a penchant for electronic beats. Their eponymous debut showcases their sugar-laced pop throughout ten tracks of the glittering, neon variety.
With a singer like Bono and a backing band like Interpol, Leverage Models offers a rather typical showcase of eighties-influenced music. “Cooperative Extensions” opens the record with reflective synth that sounds like stock music for a YouTube video. Their new wave likeness cannot be denied, and this song fits the archetype snugly. “The Least of Your Brothers” evokes mid-discography Anberlin with its reedy vocals and vague religious references. The background percussion tracks are a constant throughout the album, reminds the listener of the band’s genre.
One mysterious element is the random usage of Auto-Tune. “Sweep” opens with some Japanese-style voice modifications and would be a forgettable song if not for Sharon Van Etten’s delicate croon. The vocal edits continue in “A Slow Marriage” in painful excess. The full two minutes are tainted with the effect, but one can chalk this up to experimentation.
Songs like “Night Falls on the General Assembly” make up for the stranger tracks. More influenced by a style like the Killers, the tune is a worthwhile jaunt throughout otherworldly lands, grounded by its genuine feel and the perfect spice of guitar during the chorus. The album’s most outstanding journey, “Too Cold for Magic,” takes the listener from a jazzy, reggae-meets-Christmas music intro to a saxophone-laden bridge that could fit on a smooth jazz TV station or the background of a film. Even though it’s pure ear candy, it doesn’t make up for the overall oddity of the album as a whole. While each song might have its merits, they only conglomerate into one blob of song that’s indistinguishable by the time the album is over.