Indie music nowadays is often seen as one of the most oversaturated markets, whether it is indie pop, indie rock or indie folk it is difficult for an artist to make themselves distinct from the countless other acts in the genre, something that Australian musician Leo handles with ease. Using a mix of indie pop and rock they create powerful, energetic and honest songs with intense feeling behind them and it is no different with their latest release ‘Rough Hands’.
The song starts with a heavy instrumental with a small guitar solo playing a catchy riff, which is the loudest part of the instrumental. Underneath that you can hear a rhythm guitar and a bass, as well as a snare heavy drum kit, which helps elevate the energy of this intro so much more. It helps create a catchier start as well as making the drop off of the lead guitar as the vocals come in more pleasing, as without them the switch would be more disjointed. The drums help to keep an upbeat feeling to the song even when the track has some gut wrenching lyrics.
When the chorus arrives this is the moment where the indie rock influence becomes clear. The drums build up throughout the verse whilst the return of the instrumental from the start of the song comes back in full force to lead into the next verse. The frequent instrumental portions in this song are one of the aspects that really make it special, with the build of the drums and the slight changes that are made each time it plays sitting perfectly alongside the vocal section from the final portion of the track. This instrumental creates the energetic and raw sound that makes ‘Rough Hands’ pure emotion so much more interesting to listen to. It has such a beautiful contrast to some of the lyrics that it makes you pay attention even more, as well as just being a fantastic part to listen to.
Throughout the song there are so many instances of beautiful lyrics, some of my favourites came in the second verse, which are “So take what you want from me, I’m not living so happily/I came and I saw, now I don’t have much left to live for”. This line is a perfect example of the heartbreaking honesty that Leo weaves into every single one of their songs, which makes them so special. The genius portrayal of your emotions after someone important to you leaves your life or moves away renders you speechless, especially for a song which was written in 2018, originally about “someone close who moved away to sell cattle in rural Queensland”.
‘Rough Hands’ is a beautifully crafted song composed of honesty, sentiment and raw emotion set to the lively mix of indie pop and indie rock instrumentals that give Leo a unique sound, which is near impossible to forget. I am always excited to hear what Leo releases next and ‘Rough Hands’ has lived up to all expectations I had.