Hero & Leander's 2013 debut album, Tumble, is a sophisticated and accomplished work that showcases the band's baroque yet exuberant '80s post-punk and musical theater-influenced brand of pop. Centered around vocalist/violinist Emily Sills and vocalist/guitarist Gary Cansell, the band also features pianist Andrew Jones, guitarist Marc Sephton, bassist James Halls, and drummer Scot Lewis. These are literate, well-crafted songs that have much in common with the indie pop of bands like Field Music and Camera Obscura, and in all likelihood, the band will also draw favorable comparisons to the granddaddies of twee pop, Belle & Sebastian. However, while all of these juxtapositions are apt, Hero & Leander have their own distinctive sound that stands on its own. Vocalists Cansell and Sills complement each other nicely throughout the album, with Cansell's warm baritone playing off Sills' higher angelic croon. And while the band's overall sound is more bookish than rocking, they are not demure wallflowers. In fact, Hero & Leander's dual male/female leads and the band's organic mix of orchestral-sounding horns, sweeping strings, and sparkling guitar lines often bring to mind a less bombastic version of Meat Loaf's rock opera sound. To these ends, tracks like the utterly sweet "Kiss Me by the Water Cooler," the romantic "Everything Will Be," and the yearning album closer, "In Any Given Room," sound like they were culled from the soundtrack to a hit off-Broadway musical. Elsewhere, the band delivers a handful of angular, '80s post-punk-influenced songs like "Soul to Soul," "Collider," and the disco-inflected "The Infinite." While these songs certainly fit into the Broadway vibe of the rest of the album, they are also likely to get you dancing in the aisles of the theater you can't help imagining while listening to Tumble.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar