The oddest of odd jobs have a tendency to form a solid foundation for a rich artistic career later on, it seems: Charles Bukowski worked as a mailroom clerk, immortalized in his debut novel Post Office, while Shigeto’s Zach Saginaw (literally) cut cheese at an artisan cheese shop in London before experimenting with MPCs.
In the same vein, Florida’s David Levesque formerly drove an elementary school bus before embarking on his solo electronically tinged project, Levek. Through a whimsical ride through musical disciplines on his debut Look A Little Closer, including trippy psych-pop and dramatic chamber-pop vocals, it’s actually not all that different from those playful days riding the bus to school.
As the title implies, the album challenges the listener to delve far past the surface calm folk after an initial listen. Opener “Black Mold Grow” sparkles with gloomy keys, monotonous jazz percussion and falsetto vocals, segueing into the lovely “Canterbury Bell,” where Levek’s vocals peak while layered over lapping acoustic guitars. With an aesthetic part freak-folk a la Devendra Banhart, part cerebral songwriting in the stylings of contemporaries Grizzly Bear, the breezy “St. Francis” and “Girl In The Fog” take off, all while working within a well-defined, indie-folk soundscape.
Levek falters, however, from overarching ambition. In an attempt to transport the listener from South America and to North Africa and everywhere in between, it’s far too easy to get lost along the way, sometimes even within the same track. The album diverges from a unified sound with the entrance of unusual bossa nova number “Terra Treasures,” causing more confusion than delight. Similarly, “Can’t Buy This Love” uncannily sounds like the soundtrack of a city view lounge, a bit awkward amid the lush folk. The tribal drumming and psychedelic flutes of “Muscat Mingle”, while mind-bending, sound entirely out of place.
Where Look A Little Closer fades in its luster with the instrumental tracks, it shines with Levesque’s vocals, highlighted by careful melodies. Besides the wonderful “Canterbury Bell,” the album’s final track “French Lessons” Levek’s debut on a gorgeous note. Nonetheless, at their best, Levesque’s vocals — combined with beautiful indie-folk rhythms — craft an ambitious debut.
Essential Tracks: “Canterbury Bell”, “French Lessons”