Icelandic indie band Leaves will release it’s third album this spring. The album called We Are Shadows will be available through download and mail order on May 11th. Four years in the making the album sees the band develop their sound and songwriting even further.
Formed early in 2001 the band has an interesting story to tell. It all began when Arnar Guðjónsson and Hallur Már Hallsson rented a house in downtown Reykjavík. Arnar had been in a popular band but had songs in stock which didn’t fit their style. This happened when computer recording was in it’s early days, the house was transformed into a studio and demos for songs piled up. Through series of coincindences the demos ended up at the offices of record labels in London and Los Angeles which immediately showed interest. Old friends; Arnar Ólafsson (guitar, vocals), Andri Ásgrímsson (keys) and Bjarni Grímsson (drums) began playing the songs with Arnar and Hallur and soon the band was formed. After some pondering the group settled on Leaves as an apt name. Referring to Five Leaves Left, the first album of English legend Nick Drake.
Now it was time to move on to the next album. Bjarni had left the band being replaced by beat virtuoso Nói Steinn Einarsson and Andri permanently joined the band. The pair had been in a post-rock band Náttfari which garnered some praise at the turn of the century when Reykjavik’s music scene was probably as exciting as it has ever been. Leaves had developed their sound considerably, arrangements were now complex and layered while instrumentation had also come a long way. Still songs like Whatever and The Spell showed the bands ability to write accessible tunes. The Angela Test was recorded in the bands studio in Reykjavik in the summer of 2004. Ian Davenport who had also worked on Breathe engineered while Marius de Vries (Björk, Madonna, Rufus Wainwright, U2, PJ Harvey og Elbow) produced. When recordings were finished in the fall the album was mixed by Rich Costey (Muse, The Mars Volta, Foo Fighters, Supergrass and Interpol). The band had now signed to London based Island Records.
In the summer of 2005 the band supported Supergrass and Thirteen Senses on tours also playing some festivals and doing a headline tour in the fall. In Iceland the band played a fantastic sold out show at NASA as well as supporting pop giants Duran Duran. The album got warm reviews in magazines and newspapers although the hype surrounding Breathe was absent. Strangely the album recieved little attention in Iceland, it was distributed by Universal worldwide. That meant it came to Iceland through the same channels as other foreign acts, still The Spell remains one of the bands biggest hits. The Angela Test is by many considered Iceland’s most underrated album to date.
Few Icelandic bands have a similar story to tell as Leaves do, the band has had some considerable success though it has not reached the heights suggested earlier on. Still the band is now 8 years old, an age few bands reach in Iceland and has developed consistantly. Listening to We Are Shadows this fact becomes obvious, the care and thought put in each song speak volumes. The quality of the songwriting along with majestic arrangements and interesting recordings make We Are Shadows worthy of being called the bands best album to date.