It’s fun to imagine Tom Vek as some kind of extreme musical recluse, ensconced in a dimly lit, keyboard-filled London flat, or even as an alien issuing hazy dispatches from another world. Vek spent the six years following his first album, We Have Sound, largely in silence (though he did show up once on The OC), and the continuously effervescent Leisure Seizure is an album that, like his debut, feels strangely out of time, effortlessly divorced from current styles and trends.
Leisure Seizure is in many ways worth the wait, though it’s a decidedly humble effort, not epoch-making or with any feeling of broad significance. Like Jandek’s work, Vek’s songs sound drafted in solitude and completely foreign in nature, despite their use of familiar elements. The album is studded with hooks, but it’s also strangely prickly, a quality evidenced by the title, which seems to offer a punchy moniker for the record, but, in Vek’s Queen’s English, doesn’t actually rhyme. That quirk becomes clear via his pronunciation on “Seizemic,” a track that mostly runs on what sounds like electronic bellows, pumping steadily along.
Mostly, these songs value small pieces, built off recurring synth motifs and chunks of glittery electronic noise, which leaves them feeling like repurposed rap beats. At the same time, a song like “Aroused,” with its artificial drums and goofy sound effects, could be an Ariel Pink track, were it smeared with grime and attitude. But Vek doesn’t subscribe to most trappings of modernity, meaning that experiments like this are fierce and irony free, his nose seemingly placed squarely to the grindstone.
Like We Have Sound, Leisure Seizure feels inimitable not because of any great innovation or genius, but for the way it seemingly exists in its own perfectly contained universe. The same might be said for the man himself, who—by releasing a not incredibly ambitious, similarly toned album after a six-year hiatus—risks seeming completely detached from reality. But in some ways, that’s what makes Vek so attractive: He’s an outsider whose work feels like an expression of his own weirdo sovereignty.