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Nick Leng, 'Morning / Midnight'

If the sun is out when you are listening to this song for the first time, hit pause. Spirals, Nick Leng's sophomore record (and this track in particular), is best enjoyed staring out of a window at twilight as the sky begins to change — it's the best way to appreciate the transition between the plaintive piano on "Morning" and the gloomy kick drum heartbeat on "Midnight." These tracks have the frantic energy and deep loneliness of Radiohead circa Kid A; Leng takes the unease of that pioneering era of rock and runs with it.

It's no wonder, then, that when he begs, "Don't leave, baby, I'm a reasonable guy," you don't believe him and can't quite put a finger on why. It's the same reason you sound hollow saying "I'm fine," when that couldn't be further than the truth. Leng sees that deep distress and sings through it with an immense talent for transmuting heartbreak into a cathartic climax. Sit through the ripping instrumental breakdown on "Midnight" on a bad day and you might find your heart's bleeding staunched, padded up with gauze — even though the song resolves not with a grand resolution on suffering but with the strength to start again, on "Monday when the morning's bright." That'll do, at least for now.

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Nisha Venkat
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