Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Premium Leisure provide summer psych-rock and retro riffs aplenty on ‘Easy FM’

‘Easy FM’ is the debut EP by Premium Leisure, the latest solo project from Oxfordshire guitarist Chris Barker. Since releasing his debut single ‘Water Pistol’ under the moniker in 2018, Barker has established a clear-cut sound that combines soft, airy vocals with witty lyricism and a guitar backing. In doing so, he has created an EP that really packs a punch.

The opening track, ‘Remedies’, is a buoyant number, boasting 60s-inspired guitar licks and a toe-tapping drum beat. Barker’s vocal delivery is a charismatic croon, à la Miles Kane, but there’s also an underlying hint of sarcasm as he sings, “you do whatever makes you feel good.”

The easy-going blues-rock of ‘Ready For Forever’ offers some genre diversity, as it cruises effortlessly into the jangly strums of its first verse. Barker never misses an opportunity for a casual cultural reference, singing here, “I’m dancing with The Drifters.” The track is elevated by a glittering guitar solo at its midpoint, evoking a glam-rock T-Rex sound. Barker revels in the chance to showcase his guitar-playing prowess, with quirky and unconventional instrumentation underscoring much of the EP.

The title track ‘Easy FM’ is, at its core, a psychedelic pop song imbued with an urgent and electrifying melody. Barker enlists a plethora of talented Oxford-based musicians to enhance this sunny soundscape, including Willie J Healey on backing vocals, Harry Deacon (Palace) on bass, and drummer Mike Monaghan (Saint Etienne, Gaz Coombes).

‘Easy FM’ is described overall by Barker as a track that comments “on the ease of following trends”. He demonstrates a penchant for observational humour with lines such as, “Overanalyse the words / Read between the lines and turn / To me and say it’s genius”. The vocal delivery on this tune lies somewhere between nonchalance and witticism, furthering the breezy, light-hearted atmosphere that pervades the EP. In its final moments, this track transforms into pure post-punk, with fuzzy guitars and thrashing drums, resulting in a simultaneously controlled and unruly ending.

Ironically titled EP closer, ‘The Opener’ is another jaunty psychedelic rock bop that is sure to have any listener nodding their head along to it. “Well, I hope you had a good time / Letting me do what I like”, Barker croons over the spring-reverb of guitars, making for a track that could easily find its way onto the soundtrack of a Coen Brothers’ film.

With this collection of indie-pop and psych-rock tunes, Premium Leisure has crafted a summer soundscape that brings together retro influences and an effortlessly cool ambiance that is decidedly their own.


Sarah Taylor


Image: Premium Leisure - ‘Easy FM’ Official EP Artwork

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