Leyya – Sauna

From the minute I heard Leyya’s ‘Superego’ I knew they were something special. With its sweeping, applauding percussion and a beat drop worthy of EDM legends, it was an urgent single that threw them into the musical limelight. Now on over two million streams, the Austrian duo are back with their second album Sauna, which continues the whimsical, offbeat carnival nature of Spanish Disco, with clever intricacies that makes the ride considerably more fun. It’s less gloomy than Spanish Disco, with a much more boisterous and convivial vibe.

Sauna seems to have a power that musically consumes everyone that listens. It’s an awesome mix of the ambient which surrounds you, and the hook-laden choruses that grapple you straight back into the action. They build themselves on introspective antagonism that come from droplets of giant sounds, waves of atmospheric synths, and sparkling, finely crafted percussion. As such, they’re a particularly hard band to label. If they existed in any category, it might be trip-hop, as they hold a distinct hole between the likes of Massive Attack and early Gorillaz, but most of the time Leyya are too ambiguous and celestial to categorise for a long period of time. By its very nature, this makes Sauna a very exciting listen. Opening and titular track ‘Sauna’ kicks off with a radio presenter announcing “Today we are listening to Vienna-based band Leyya, you know they bring in instrumentation from all across the world” and from there it’s a playful, animated and effervescent listen from start to finish.

Second single from the record, ‘Drumsolo’, plays on juxtaposition. Essentially a musical contradiction, it’s described by the band as “Very complex” and “at one point it doesn’t even make sense music-theoretically”. It’s refreshing to see a band throw out the rulebook the way Leyya have. ‘Drumsolo’ is delirious and spontaneous; an endeavour, or burst of energy, that doesn’t worry itself with structure. Likewise, follow-up song ‘Zoo’ is a bombastic, feel-good summer hit. Built around embellishments of sitar and easy-listening vocals, its hook-heavy “Don’t believe what they say about me” chorus is rhapsodic, alongside its quirky use of bouncy percussion.

Most of the time, Sauna is a fragrant, ambrosial listen, but at times there’s an eeriness to Sophie Lindinger’s voice that is ominous and capricious. ‘Solitude (I’ve Never Been Fun)’ briskly brings the atmosphere down with her macabre vocals making for an intense listen. Additionally, ‘Oh Wow’ appears to bridge the gap from their previous, darker sounding record to their fresh, jovial new sound. ‘Oh Wow’ contains the crystal clear production we’ve come to expect from Leyya, along with their unusual instrumentation, yet its their innate pop sensibilities that come to the fore here. With splendid melodies, and an otherworldly vocal, it’s a genuine pop smash-hit.

Furthermore, ‘Heat’, one of the finest songs on the record, already sounds like it’s ready for Radio 1’s playlist. Its seductive groove and tiers of sultry synths make this sound like an impeccable jaunty banger. Indeed, most of the record is this captivating, but with ‘Heat’s hypnotic beat, be prepared for it to be stuck in your head for days.

Sauna is a diversified, almost universal listen. So much has gone into this record, that it feels like an explosion of cultures. From 60s funk to 90s trip-hop to electronic dance music, all the way through to subtle Asian influences, it’s an immensely fun ride reminiscent of a celebratory carnival of sounds.

Liam McMillen

Website: leyya-music.com
Facebook: facebook.com/Leyya.Music
Twitter: twitter.com/LeyyaLeyya