Leopold & His Fiction

Darling Destroyer (Native Fiction)

Texas Platters

Modern rock's flaccid riffs haven't gentrified Leopold & His Fiction. Not given the genuine excitement of fourth album Darling Destroyer. Aided by local super producer Chris "Frenchie" Smith, the Austin outfit fleshes out its sonic palette without sacrificing brash, guitar-driven fury. Singer/guitarist and namesake Daniel Leopold understands that rock & roll remains a dish best served dramatic, so the Detroit native augments the 12-bar blues strut of opener "Cowboy" with a glam rock sheen owing as much to Marc Bolan as Jack White. "My heart is made of stone/ I'm alive when I'm alone," snarls Leopold on the swaggering "It's How I Feel (Free)," playing the part of his chosen genre's lonesome traveler with gusto. The Motor City maestro's affinity for Motown coats the swinging "I'm Caving In" and sultry "Better Off Alone," the latter juxtaposing gospel-tinged harmonies with seductive, minor key chord changes. Languid slide guitars soar on folker "Ride," while "Who Am I" strips away Leopold's mighty Fiction in lieu of acoustic strums and a plaintive vocal melody. Sounds of a bygone era underlie the LP's raucous second half in "Saturday," echoing Elton John's weekend anthem, and the piano interlude on "Boy" hearkening the Beatles' "Lady Madonna." Leopold & His Fiction scatters such sonic Easter eggs throughout the diverse and electrifying Darling Destroyer, proving they're informed by the past, not resigned to it.

***.5

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