Leg Puppy are a force to be reckoned with on so many levels. Obviously there’s the music; bold glops of dance gravy that cause your limbs to twitch with the anticipation of dance, sub bass pushing your chest and high frequencies tickling your amygdala, but they also have a keen sense of graphics and mise-en-scène in both the design of their album art, videos and stage show. If you have ever been to one of their gigs you will know that theatricality and ceremony are as much a part of the show as the music. There are neon clowns, S&M undertones, and a Ringmaster martialling the players and audience alike. There is a lot worth checking out in the Leg Puppy back catalogue but A Guide To Social Distancing (AGTSD) is their first full album release since 2019’s Non-Disclosure Agreement and comes hot on the heels of their excellent single release ‘Secret Friend’ which featured Josefin Öhrn on vocals.
Opening track ‘Gravity’ is a broiling, slow build of a song, a sorbet to cleanse your mind of your non-Leg Puppy life and let you know that they now control the horizontal and vertical and have re-tuned your brain’s delta waves to the LEG PUPPY frequency. ‘266 (Petter Potter)’ continues to build tension with a gentle turbulence that gets its payoff in ‘Kinky Emoji’, one of the heavy hitters on AGTSD and sounds like Carry On does Kraftwerk. This is a 4-on-the-floor nightclub banger filled with swelling electronics, a mesmeric female narration and serrated voice repeating “SEX, LOSS, CONTROL” throughout. This is a track ripe for the remixing and will, no doubt, keep many a disco-biscuit-diva’s hands in the air. These first three tracks together reminded me of the boat trip in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory which goes from gentle cruise to out of control psychedelic rocket trip.
Like twins separated at birth Leg Puppy have a duality that crosses between EDM and soundtrack and this is on display in the second half of the album with the brooding ‘Detroit’ which gives the sense of a sketchy drive through the US city at night, ‘Arsenal 2-2 Sunderland’ with its eclectic mixture of tweaking keyboard lines, queasy bass notes, ethereal female voice and even spoken word from a Nanna and the football results. ‘Paycheck (Take my life)’ is another dancefloor filler but also a parable on the concerning ubiquity of the gambling industry. It compares betting to crack cocaine and gives a fly-on-the-wall vignette into betting shop life with its fruit machine chirrups and an optimistic customer talking about being “in front” with the bookmakers. Closing track ‘Lights out’ is as cold and neon bright as a Berlin street on a winter’s night. It’s a dark electronic coda to AGTSD that could be a reference to literally putting the light out at the end of a bad day or week or a metaphor for taking your own life: “Slammed door, last time, run home, rain hard, lose job, turn key, mood swings, last time”. Either way the album doesn’t go gently into this good night.
Leg Puppy are a club night with a conscience. They are as willing to tickle your pleasure centre as much as wanting to challenge the listener’s principles. EDM is usually about escape from reality and, while this is often the perfect outcome, it’s refreshing to have electronica combined with a keen sense of humanity. Leg Puppy want you to wave your arms in the air and care while you are doing it. Give them the budget of a Chemical Brothers gig and a global TV audience and it’s not entirely inconceivable that world peace could spontaneously dance its way into existence and A Guide To Social Distancing has done nothing to change my thought that Leg Puppy are George Orwell’s house band.
Album review by Paul F Cook