NME (Magazine) - "[I]t all hangs inexplicably together, thanks to heavy doses of charm and wit, its ability to propel your emotions from thrilled to weepy to lovelorn in a trice -- and the promise that Kiran Leonard might grow into a properly important figure in British rock."
Pitchfork (Website) - "GRAPEFRUIT is by turns astounding, accomplished and difficult to digest, an album shouldering ambitions so big that you fear that at any point it might give way at the knees."
Personnel: Kiran Leonard (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, cittern, mandolin, violin, pennywhistle, melodica, reed organ, synthesizer, bass guitar, drums, bongos, finger cymbals, tambourine, pans, bells, unknown instrument).
Audio Mixer: Max Leonard.
Recording information: Oldham Lyceum (10/2012-12/2014); Saddleworth, UK (10/2012-12/2014); Salford (10/2012-12/2014); St. Christopher's Church, Withington (10/2012-12/2014); Top Floor Park Building, Greenhead College, Huddersfiel (10/2012-12/2014).
Having released a fascinating if rambling set of experimental pop called Bowler Hat Soup for his debut at age 18, Kiran Leonard follows up a little over two years later with even more challenging, impulsive-sounding indie rock on Grapefruit. While the debut claimed over 20 instruments in rotation, all played by its creator, here Leonard shares the workload with several guests, including a traditional string quartet, though there's little conventional about the performances or the songs. To drive that point home, the musician introduced the album with the 16-minute lead single "Pink Fruit," a meandering but instinctively dramatic epic that moves through segments of garage rock, woodwind-embellished chamber pop, and multiple flavors of classic art rock, at times dotted with spoken word samples. It's all delivered with a loose, reckless feel. A moody cross between, say, Of Montreal, Dirty Projectors (a noted influence), and Richard Hell, Grapefruit is -- title aside -- full of vim and audacity. The more standard-length "Caiaphas in Fetters," whose title is likely a reference to comments a mentally unstable Friedrich Nietzsche made in letters while he was dying from pneumonia, is an acoustic guitar-and-strings chamber piece underneath Leonard's volatile, intentionally imperfect vocals. In contrast, "Öndör Gongor" is nearly eight minutes of shape-shifting math rock. By the time he gets to the next to last track, the acoustic-guitar folk ballad "Half-Ruined Already," anticipation alone makes it feel dangerous. While the overcast love song, which was inspired by a Werner Herzog short about a former leper colony, never morphs into anything else, the vocal performance keeps us on edge and guarantees no passive listening. The album closes with "Fireplace," a cacophonous lounge tune that challenges until the piano stool-dislodging end. Through it all, Leonard maintains an intangible charisma that, along with sustained vulnerability and a knack for keeping the familiar in play while distorting it, has the potential to enthrall. ~ Marcy Donelson