Album Review: Imperial Leisure – Lifestyle Brand

Imperial Leisure like to party. They like booze, sex and all the usual shenanigans that come as part of the touring lifestyle. In true testament they put themselves on the map in 2010 with The Art of Saying Nothing,; an assortment of ska and hip-hop party anthems that established some solid foundations for the festival seasons ahead. Two years later, the aptly titled follow up ‘Death to the One Trick Pony’ waved goodbye to their hedonistic revelries and explored a new brand of synth-fused pop, accompanied by a deeper, more introspective lyrical style. But whilst refreshing for some, this bold shift in styles left many of their loyal fans somewhat unsatisfied.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 2015’s ‘Lifestyle Brand’ sees the band returning to their roots in a major way, and what’s more it’s probably for the best. Opening track ‘Victory Cycle’ immediately sets the tone with its Latin keys and powerful brass section taking the lead, the opening lyrics “Back to basics” reaffirming we’re once again on familiar ground. Organ drenched ska tunes ‘Lucky People’ and ‘Nasty Boy’ continue in similar fashion, and are like a fresh breath of festival summer air against the darker tone of the last record. Front man Dboy’s notorious wit and vocal dexterity shine brightly and provide an even match to the band’s profound musicianship throughout.

It’s a shame though that with the return of the band’s signature sound also comes some of the less inspiring lyrical traits of former years. Songs like ‘Three Women One Night’ and ‘Razzle Dazzle’ while undeniably catchy lend themselves to some occasionally tiresome subject matter. Lines such as “Nice tits…nice bed, give head” and “Who does he fuck, the mother or the daughter?” are unfortunate reminders of old habits that perhaps should have died in 2010. At a time when other bands of the genre are gravitating in more progressive directions lyrically, it’s a pity to see Imperial Leisure clinging on so dearly to their “lads on tour” mentality.

For better or for worse though, ‘Lifestyle Brand’ is a wholly unapologetic record. Bursting into the room with a boisterous swagger and beer in hand it delivers what the band does best. Fans of the first record will undoubtedly love it, and for those willing to put lyrical hang ups aside, ‘Lifestyle Brand’ could see in a new wave of fans for this well-oiled party machine.


’Lifestyle Brand by Imperial Leisure is out now on FXD Records.

Imperial Leisure links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Matt Carson.


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