LEATHERS New Single “Highrise” is a Neon-Lit Backdrop to a Lusted-After Lifestyle
On LEATHERS’ latest release, Shannon Hemmett takes us on a night out full of glorious nostalgia & hedonism.
LEATHERS is one of the most exciting new crossovers between the post-punk influences of the past and the slicker, pulsing sounds of the modern 80s revival. If the hook-laced melody writing of Depeche Mode’s David Gahan met dark, coldwave synths, the result wouldn’t be far off LEATHERS’ current single, “Highrise” – a hedonistic and fantastical track that is centered around the fantasy of a partner with a darker side.
LEATHERS is the solo project of Shannon Hemmett, who also plays synths and sings backing vocals in Vancouver-based post-punk outfit ACTORS. With vocals by Hemmett and production by fellow ACTORS bandmate Jason Corbett, the latest single “Highrise” was released on Artoffact Records. The song is part of its same-titled EP which also includes tracks like “Runaway”, “Reckless”, and “Ultraviolet”.
The band coalesced in Vancouver surrounding Jason Corbett’s studio Jacknife Sound. ACTORS brought to coldwave a rock and roll flair with fry-laden vocals and a perfect synergy between upbeat pop, dark synths, and a touch of industrial sound. Translucent guitars on tracks like “L’Apelle du Vide” add to the tasty layers of sound and instrumental hooks. LEATHERS on the other hand brings out a more superficially soft side to Corbett’s production as he lets the lustre of Hemmett’s vocals shine.
“I’m always fighting through my inhibitions.”Shannon Hemmett
Where post-punk played it straight with gloomier emotions and social criticism, “Highrise” is the gleefully indulgent, neon-lit, metropolitan backdrop to a lusted-after lifestyle. It’s the sound of glorious nostalgia and hedonism, perfect for a night out. One of Hemmett’s skills lies in painting a picture of a cool, calm, and collected Mr. Faceless whose exact traits and appeal will vary based on the listener. As a vocalist, Hemmett is great at creating that subtle edge that transports one to somewhere with a certain atmosphere. When asked about the inspiration for the track, Hemmett muses on a feeling which is certainly not alien within music: “I’m always fighting through my inhibitions. With “Highrise” I get to fantasize about an illicit encounter with wealth and sexual power in a penthouse high above the city. What could be more fun?!”
While Hemmett might have created a sonic signature that calls back the 80s, the lyrics to “Highrise” are piercingly 21st century with a hint of darkness in a visceral, no-frills way. Hemmett sings of fantasies of a partner with the eponymous residence who can “undress… with your eyes”, leaving, as always, just enough details to conjure a feeling. In fact, “Highrise” is almost as if the best of underground synthpop, goth, and post-punk developed a much edgier older sister.
“Highrise” might ultimately be about the turbulence of a world that is out of most of its reach. It might be about the sheer lust for a person, real or imaginary, but it’s also about lust for a world. Overall, “Highrise” is a bite-sized soundtrack to the movie of your dreams, where Shannon Hemmett’s lyrics excel in making a smart and irresistibly catchy vignette – one that is so infectiously hooky, you’ll have every beat repeating in your head.
Featured Image by LEATHERS/Shannon Hemmett