It was June 2016 when I was at a hostel bar in Portugal called Oasis. A 30+ degrees day kicked the asses of non natives and the bodies of the hungover splayed across every couch in sight.
I was writing an article when my girlfriend was talking to a guy called Ryan from New Zealand. He came over after hearing I wrote about music and wanted to show me a clip of his friend. Absently, I said “sure, after I finish.”
I got stuck on a line and decided to play the YouTube clip. The humble man in the video made a brief introduction to his song “Leftover Wine.” The song that came through my headphones was the kind that takes you by the arm and draws you into your past with the gentle and distinct allure of honesty that comes from the depth of despair.
I forgot where I was and no longer felt the heat. It was talent of the purest form.
A few months later, I get sent a copy of the debut album I’ll Leave Me Before You Do with a caveat: “you have to listen in order.” Truth is, I expected the record to be good. The video showed a man who could write damn good poetry and effortlessly command subtleties with a guitar to create poignant nuances — but none of that prepared me for this record.
I’ll Leave Me Before You Do, is a confidently executed concept album. The record takes you through varying stages of a seemingly typical crumbling relationship, but every song keeps you guessing as to where the style will shift and very few songs escape these perfectly placed errancies.
For example: the almost psychedelic rock ballad opener “I’ll Let You Go If You Don’t Leave” begins with a slow sweeping guitar and ends with raucous double-time drums, banging pianos and a driving bass. “Nothing Beats a Lover,” begins with the mingling of guitar, piano and vocals which is then kicked into motion by a country beat that somehow doesn’t sound country in the context. Then there is “Pretty Baby” a shredding rocker that teeters on sounding like early Band of Skulls or even the White Stripes — and ends with a ripping solo.
Throughout these seismic shifts in style, the listener is guided through by the transfixing voice of the singer who enunciates every rasping word with an intentional rhythmic choice. At times, he has the warmth of Blur’s Damon Albarn when he croons and laments, but is also capable of brashness like Spoon’s Britt Daniels when he howls and pleads.
This album packs a hodgepodge rock subcategories without sounding messy. Instead, Louis’ execution makes it the album’s greatest strength. And to add to the awe inspiring maturity of the music, the lyrics are just stunning.Each song is carefully placed both for lyrical and musical purposes — all of this leads to making every song like a chapter in a novella.
I’ll Leave Me Before You Do is a reflection, a musical realisation of the creator — Louis Puggaard Muller’s mind. The scope of this work, the meticulous construction to represent every detail of that mind, is simply baffling. What we have in the end is a very ambitious work that has paid out in full.
If you’ve ever found solace in darkness, listen to this album. Listen to it in it’s entirety, and then again, and again. It’s tender, it’s bitter sweet, haunting but also fun. I guarantee you’ll be taken by the sheer beauty of it all.
-Sion Marc Anthony