With the latest entry into the series, it’s pretty obvious that the James Bond franchise shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s become common knowledge that a James Bond movie is a sure bet, regardless of the fact that Die Another Day is, for all intents as purposes, the same film as The Spy Who Loved Me as Goldfinger as Dr. No. The names behind Bond may have changed, as has the exotic locales, fancy gadgets, and busty babes, but the formula is slick, secure, and completely critic proof.
So what does this have to do with the latest from the duo of Geri Sariano and Romin Sakurai, aka Supreme Beings of Leisure? Well, it hit me while listening to “Rock And A Hard Place,” which I realized would make a great track for the opening credits of the next Bond movie (you know, during all of the nude silhouettes pirouetting around). Sariano’s sultry voice coos “You’re hard as nails/You’re cold as ice/You’ve nothing to lose/You roll the dice” over exotic instrumentation, pulsing synths, and a horn arrangement that feels like something John Barrie might’ve composed had he, in the ‘60s, been aware of his influence on the Bristol scene.
If nothing else, it’s certainly a far sight better than that Sheryl Crow drek from a few films back.
Like the Bond films, the Supreme duo’s sound is slick, and by “slick” I mean Swiss clockworks and fine German engineering. Some might complain about it being over-produced, the sort of music you’d find in those expensive clothing bistros that only exist along the Mediterranean and maybe, if you’re lucky, in New York or Los Angeles.
But you’re not listening to Supreme Beings of Leisure for grit or realism; if you buy this album you want 21st century sophistication, and that’s what you get. There’s a definite and deliberate studio sheen to this album, from the “Saturday Night Fever”-by-way-of-Jamiroquai funk of “Give Up” to “Ghetto“ ‘s Bollywood-inspired strings to the big band-esque, Shirley Bassey touches on “Catch Me.”
You’ve got to hand it to the duo. They’ve got quite a chameleon act going on here, taking a number of genres and running them through some very snappily-dressed production. The result is a very processed blend of everything — a little funk, some hip-hop wicka-wicka, some Esqivel-lite instrumentation, and plenty of exotic spice to give it extra seasoning. And let’s not forget some vaguely esoteric spirituality to give it added “depth” and “meaning.”
But let’s face facts. Terms like “watered down,” bland,” and “generic” do cross one’s mind at times. As fine as “Get Away” or “Rock and a Hard Place” might be, their trip-hop “ultra-lite” approach could easily be brushed aside by the likes of Portishead or Massive Attack. Of course, you’d never associate the word “leisure” with either of those groups, and it’s clear that the Supreme Beings have no desire to creep you out with rasta mutterings of gloom and doom.
So, like the Bond series, Supreme Beings of Leisure can stand up to criticism. Like the Bond series, where even Roger Moore’s most wack film was still a blast to watch, Supreme Beings of Leisure do their share to add a little spice and spirit to your next soirée. Just make sure you have a martini in hand; it’ll help to make the album go down all the smoother (and possibly vice versa).