Why Gentleman Reg has yet to make the leap to national treasure status remains one of Toronto’s most puzzling music-scene mysteries. Over the course of his decade-plus career, Reg Vermue has released four acclaimed records, performed in drag as half of the synthy duo Light Fires, and acted as an accomplice to the rise of many of our nation’s most famous bands.
But throughout his various incarnations, there’s been one constant: his preternatural gift for churning out winning indie-pop tunes with impressive consistency. He founded his own label this year for the release of the three-part Leisure Life EP series, and this final collected version finds his songwriting skills in peak form. Marked by a batch of self-assured choruses, the best songs here are naturally breezier than the ones heard on his last full-length, 2009’s muscular Jet Black.
Like much of Gentleman Reg’s most memorable work, Leisure Life muses on the inherent messiness of looking for love in a city like ours, chronicling a slew of breakups, make-ups, missed connections, and everything in between.
While it might be perplexing that a musician of such talent continues to fly under the radar, we’d best enjoy our proximity to this Toronto-based treasure while we still can. If there’s any justice in this world, he won’t be hanging around forever.
Playlist picks “I Could Be What You Wanted,” “Waiting Around for Gold,” “You Lie in the Dirt”
Gentleman Reg plays the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St. W.) on Dec. 2.