Leifur James Angel in Disguise LateNightTales
When London-based composer and producer Leifur James released a remix EP of his debut album A Louder Silence in 2019, it gave some indication of the direction he was to lean into with sophomore LP Angel in Disguise. Gone are the jazzy atmospherics of his first full-length; bright guitar chords and grooves are traded in for dread-laden synths and noticeably, the mood turns sombre as James directs his gaze inward.
The album title itself suggests a darker direction, and here, James carves out a nocturnal world that’s built on love and loss – both personal and reflective of humanity’s relationship with nature. Opener Circles is hypnotic with its brooding piano lines that are layered with pitch-shifted vocals and its “one more chance” refrain. Emotional vulnerability is woven into the LP early on, through tracks such as Black Lens and I Ran With You and when the artist layers his laconic voice into the album, the mournful tones are reminiscent of James Blake. The apex of the LP arrives at Ritual and the Coby Sey-featuring track Alien, both of which see James at his most explorative, driving tension into the album’s deluge of melancholia.
While Angel in Disguise certainly demonstrates James’ skill as a producer, the album’s tendency to meander and drift – as if lost in the cycles of grief and nostalgia – can begin to wear a little thin. After a while, the listener is left craving a way through to the other side.