Well, talk about happy music, isn’t this a happy beat? Fifteen seconds in, not a lot has really started, and I’m already smiling. I’m not sure how much is electronic and how much is organic but the sound is sweet and buoyant, with some great fat bass licks and an early smattering of shiny, retro-future synth squiggles. The vocals accumulate over the course of the first minute as little more than a gathering mumble and then, right on cue, comes the first lyric: “We get to this place/After standing in line with everyone in the world.” I’m still smiling.
I can’t really tell you what happens from here on in, but I like it. The beat goes on; the song glides by; stray lyrical bits penetrate; the vocals get a bit frantic in a neo-Talking-Heads kind of way. What I like about Shannon Fields, who does musical business as Leverage Models, is that he creates such a vibrant, chewy sound from his rhythms and keyboards. I mean, that’s so much of what pop music has reduced to in this age of free music: rhythms and keyboards. I am aghast at the number of songs thrown up on SoundCloud that are the most unremarkable constructions that nevertheless attract comments of unadulterated if generic support (“Awesome beat!” “Cool vocal!”). If we keep hearing unremarkable as good we are not going to know anything anymore. But I digress. Fortunately talent still finds a way, some of the time. Fields has a gift, even if I can’t quite describe it or know what it actually is. “Cooperative Extensions” has the feel of a jolly, nebulous, 21st-century adventure (this is the first song I can think of that has a lyrical reference to clicking on a link) and each time it ends I feel inclined to hit the play button again not because the next listen will unlock the mystery (although there’s always hoping) but because it just wants to keep playing and playing.
Fields has recorded two EPs as Leverage Models over the last 18 months or so, and seems affixed to what Hometapes, his record label, calls “two-word identifiers” (the previous releases were Interim Deliverable and Forensic Accounting). “Cooperative Extensions” is the title track from the forthcoming debut full-length album, for which I can’t find a release date. Note that Leverage Models was previously featured on Fingertips in January 2011.