Daylight Versions is the debut full-length album from London quintet The Leaf Library, due out on 30 October via wiaiwya. The record is full of wonderfully woozy, drone-pop tunes about meteorology, the seasons and the incoming sea; from songs about the ghostly Suffolk coastline to the slowly rising waters of London marshes, these ten tracks channel the warm fuzz of Yo La Tengo, the spacious repetition of Talk Talk and Movietone’s seaside melancholy to beautiful effect.
Musically, the album is a shift away from the Stereolab and Electrelane influenced buzz and drone of the band’s previous singles. Aside from the propulsivenss of opening track “Asleep Between Stations”, the album has a more contemplative, nocturnal feel, with songs that gradually unfurl, with more horns, strings and pianos brought into the mix. This coupled with waves of synths and drones give the album a drifting, tidal feel throughout.
In order to capture an expansive feel, and to make the most of music connections, The Leaf Library brought in a whole load of friends and collaborators. The record features a plethora of guest talent including Steven James Adams, Rob Smoughton from Hot Chip, Alison Cotton and Mark Nicholas from The Left Outsides, Daniel Fordham and David Stewart from The Drink, as well as Alasdair Maclean from The Clientele and Amor de Dias. The guests were given minimal direction, and instead left to play as spontaneously as possibly, encouraging chance and serendipity. Unplanned elements such as the horns on taster track “Rings of Saturn” and the weather storm of drums that closes the album on “Evening Gathers” give the record an untethered and unconfined atmosphere.
The Leaf Library started out in Reading after Matt’s previous band (John Peel favourites) Saloon split in 2004. He started writing and recording with vocalist Kate Gibson and after moving to London, they were joined by bassist Gareth Jones (from Wintergreen) and guitarist Ben Smith, Matt’s housemate at the time. After a couple of temporary drummers, Lewis Young settled in for good, bringing with him an eclectic collection of synths and gadgets. Matt also played with Steven James Adams in Singing Adams, who released two albums – ‘Everybody Friends Now’ (2011) and ‘Moves’ (2012).
They released their first single Losing Places in 2008 via the Dutch label The Hooter Listens (which included a remix by Isan), followed by a second single on the French label Beko in 2010. In 2011 they released Different Activities, Similar Diversions, a compilation of various tracks and home recording experiments. 2014’s The Greater Good (part of the WIAIWYA singles club) gained heavy play on BBC 6music, and was followed by another 7”, Walking Backwards for the label in 2015.
The Leaf Library have produced an album full of uneasy beauty. Graceful yet grandiose, Daylight Versions captures the feeling of living amongst England’s eccentric weather, of being on a small island floating in the North Sea, as it slowly disappears beneath the waves.