After a three year spell in a barren wasteland of exile, Leeds own Stateless are back. Chris James, Kidkanevil, Justin Percival and David Levin are not only refreshed but enhanced, bringing with them a deeper and dynamic diversity to their sound and their self titled debut LP.
DJ Shadow who not only stated ‘Their EP is stunning, it just came out this week. As close to perfection as I’ve heard in a long time’, Shadow then got Chris to collaborate on a couple of tracks from his ‘Outsider’ LP and lastly, what must’ve been a Stateless career highlight, got them opening for him on a full UK tour. If that doesn’t excite the press into frenzy, I don’t know what will! And so here we find them on a grandiose pedestal for all to admire. But are they worth it?
It’s clear from the outset that obvious comparisons can be made to the likes of Portishead and their sentiment driven trip hoppy sound and to UNKLE with their epic dancefloor sensibility. You can even catch the odd Kronos Quartet moment in there. As for vocals, Chris’s voice is uncanny! Is Jeff Buckley back from touring the ethereal other side to possess Chris? Has he been listening to Mansun, Doves or Leaves for the last hundred and twenty two months?
Ultimately, Stateless have taken glorious UNKLE collaboratory highlights including those with Thom Yorke, Richard Ashcroft or any other indie rock balladeers I’ve forgotten and used the urgent dance ethic/yearning soul spilling combination as the foundation of their craft. And I say craft because they’ve gone one step further than to produce kick-ass backing tracks for somebody to rattle over.
Each track on this LP is fluent and absorbing, with both the rhythmically arranged instrumental and eloquently profound vocal elements to thank. Each song is more than a catchy chorus that claws away at your subconscious. There’s a tale to be heard beneath the finely textured composition that you actually strive to decipher in order to identify with this pensive voice crying out. The inclusion of a complete set of lyrics within the minimal yet effective artwork closes the package considerately and commendably. Thank you Stateless thank you.
As your friendly neighbourhood music journalist, I recommend you catch them live at their upcoming shows in Camden (Lock Tavern) on August 5th and Leeds (Metro Uni) on September 1st. Details for tour dates abroad are available from their website.