Picking up where he left off with 2020’s buoyant Lower Powers EP (Landland Colportage) under the D.H. Currier moniker, Chicago indie whiz Dustin Currier makes use of a signature sonic palette to expand that genre-agnostic pomp and circumstance (and personnel) on the debut Lightleak LP, Tender Fits. In between facilitating remote music classes as a public school teacher and working on his other projects Ands and Cut Teeth, Currier utilized time in quarantine to self-produce this remarkable collection—arranging an exuberant brass section atop a bed of wiry, interlocking guitars, dizzying keyboards, and a nimble rhythm section. But according to Currier, “bringing other people in was paramount to making something that is three-dimensional and really worth listening to,” so he enlisted the art-punk audio ace Chad Clark (Beauty Pill, Dismemberment Plan) to mix the album; Sadie Dupuis (Speedy Ortiz, Sad13), Vivian McConnell (V.V. Lightbody), and Krystal Rosenbrock on additional vocals; Seth Engel (Options) on drums; Ben Grigg (Geronimo!) on trumpet; and Logan Bloom on trombone. Across Tender Fits’ eleven tracks, Currier & Co. demonstrate a Goldilocksian knack for mining seemingly disparate aural elements to craft something anomalous and somehow just-right. On a song like the cleverly playful “Asking For a Friend”, densely orchestrated grooves pair soul-tinged horns with dissonant, call-and-reponse guitars that build up to a spacious, euphoric chorus where Currier seems to find stasis in quarter-life crisis as he bellows, “Out of sight, out of my mind / I alight, I lie in light”. Whether confronting patriarchy ("No Icon", "(Boys) Must Not Be"), crooning an offbeat ode to a beloved dog ("Salty Tongue"), or processing collective generational grief ("Pardoners", "Sympathetic Vibration"), the songs on Tender Fits emanate from a core of pursuing radical love in its many forms. Lightleak’s triumphant debut is sure to resonate with fans of forward-thinking indie and punk-adjacent acts as much as connoisseurs of classic songwriting and other genre-bending pioneers. From the album’s opening moments, the band welcomes the listener into its own little singular world via intermittent laughter-laden practice clips, stick clicks, and field recordings. While Currier’s fervent yet frank vocals provide an anchor to Tender Fits’ sonic explorations, the well-placed pair of instrumental tracks “Mmm Hmm Om” and “Scared So” showcase a rare knack for composition and arrangement that goes beyond your typical indie rock intermission. What is clear upon even a first listen is that every note and musical choice throughout this album was made with great care and intention. Tender Fits will be the inaugural release for Currier’s new record label, Model Love Songs. In addition to a full digital release, the limited edition 160-gram LP contains a 10-page DIY “zine” insert featuring original artwork and photography by Currier and Emily Dupree. Lightleak looks forward to performing this music—both solo and as a full band—everywhere from select local shows to international tours when possible in support of the record.