Transgender Street Legend Vol. 1, by Left at London
Suggested by Lea Syme
It’s amazing what you can call yourself these days.
When I was younger, it was much simpler. Clear cut. Black and white.
Then, well, the youths got involved. And things got so confusing. “We’re the future,” they’d say, challenging the status quo. “We defy the old labels. Get with the program, grandad!”
Apparently, Left at London is… an “internet personality.”
I mean, what in the hell? That’s a career, is it? In my day, an “internet personality” was the bloke that sang Chocolate Rain, or the Numa Numa guy, or Leeeeeroy aah-Jenkinnns. Arrive, five minutes of fame, leave. You were a meme. Not a self-actualised and talented singer / songwriter / comedian.
Bah grr humbug, get off my virtual lawn.
(You can unclench now.)
Transgender Street Legend Vol. 1 is an EP, four songs that total eleven minutes. As it’ll likely take you a chunk of that to read this review, I might as well go song by song.
We start with Revolution Lover, where Left at London reveals her voice to be quirky yet emotive. It has an odd X Factor feel, reminiscent of some of the finer contestants, if not if not those in the winner’s circle. There’s also a Beiber-esque androgyny to the tone, which adds an intriguing veneer. The drum sound is low-fi and tinny, evoking an almost garage sound, and the main stabbing squeak of a melodic hook works well with the layered chorus.
Next up is my favourite track, I Split My Ribs Open, which starts in a high falsetto accompanying some gentle guitar work. Soon, there’s a funky drumbeat, which frames the track with a more energetic feel. Cue a slight shift in tone that’s reminiscent of Rhianna’s Umbrella, and a fine rap section from Open Mike Eagle, and we have a playlist contender front and centre.
Third is the acoustic I Don’t Trust U Anymore, a paired down lyrical journey through an obviously personal story. It’s the heart of the EP, I think, and clearly the one that both means the most to Left at London, and the one that’s the most fun to play. If channels early Barenaked Ladies, and more than a spoonful of They Might Be Giants. If it weren’t for a couple of clunky lyrics and a bizarrely abrupt ending, I’d single it out for high praise indeed.
Finally, we have the weakest track, the rather empty-sounding Waiting on a Ghost. Again, it’s a story of apparently lost love, this time over sparce and dream-like electric guitar. Left at London’s voice is bitter-sweet but slightly overpowering, and the track feels unfinished and off-balance because of it.
All things considered, I enjoyed Transgender Street Legend Vol.1. I give it a respectable 6/10. It’s not higher because, well, it’s not longer. I know it’s an EP, but when one out of four songs ain’t great then we have a quarter of the work devaluing the rest. If that’s one out of ten, there’s still hope for top marks. Additionally, having read a little about Left at London’s Internet roots and comedic pastiches, I was hoping for something played more for teh lulzorz, as the kids (probably don’t) say.
Also, Left at London is Trans.