David West is Rat Columns. Though he has an extensive network of musical friends and connections (the dude tours with Total Control amongst several other projects), the Rat Columns moniker is his. Originally from Perth, lived in San Francisco and now in Melbourne (I think…), West has seen and done much, and Leaf sounds like a reflection of that.
Leaf is an exquisite guitar-driven album. From the opening notes of ‘Straight To Hell’ (an early highlight) one can get to grips with his brand of pop-influenced rock. His vocals are delicate, which is an interesting contrast. At times it feels at odds with the instrumentation, washed out and little but still impactful. I felt there were similarities to Bradford Cox, earnest yet withdrawn. There are elements of isolation here; introspective and crestfallen. West might have gone through some hard times in his travels – the songs feel lived in, authentic.
When this album opens up it is amazing. It feels spacious, despite the timid vocals, and you are suddenly able to breathe – there is a nice breeze running throughout this record. This music feels ageless; I felt the open spaces of 90’s US indie rock mixed with the abandon of their 2000’s progeny (think Sebadoh meets The Pains of Being Pure at Heart) with the added polish of certain New Wave artists for good measure.
This is a refreshing record, and one that deserves plenty of listens. If you are feeling reflective, listen to this record. If you are feeling down, listen to this record. If you need to stop feeling down, listen to this record.