But he’s sometimes considered one, which can be attributed to the fact that he lived here for a period, and that at various times his groups have channeled D.C. sounds and concerns. The latter remains true, but perhaps only on the surface, on The Brutalist Bricks, Leo’s sixth album with his backing band, the Pharmacists. In his review of the new record in this week’s Washington City Paper, David Dunlap Jr. writes:
But Leo’s greatest strength isn’t his ideology or intellect, but his willingness to get personal. After the political prelude of “Bottled in Cork,” arguably the best song of Leo’s career, he sings “I got a message from my sister/She just had a kid” in a way that seems intimate, or at least like a tweet from a friend. Leo’s voice is in fine form: When a chorus of his overdubbed vocals finishes the song by repeating “Tell the bartender/I think I’m falling in love,” one wishes it would continue endlessly instead of fading out. Leo also takes an introspective approach on “Tuberculoids Arrive in Hop,” which is a more jarring shade of mellow than “One Polaroid a Day.” “Tuberculoids”—with its spare production, mournful tone, and the ambient tones of crickets and footsteps—is reminiscent of the introspective work of low-key, doomed souls like Eliott Smith and Skip Spence. Meanwhile, “Last Days” could come from a Pavement led by Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook. When Leo sings, “Woke up today/Got on my way/Heard someone say/Are we living in the last days?/And being alone, I naturally thought of you,” it’s evident that his songs aren’t academic lectures so much as they’re thoughtful soliloquies in reaction to world events.
Read the full review here.