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If You Wait
"Longing, loving, leaving: Those are the boundaries of the impeccable
pop universe that London Grammar has built for itself."
- The New York Times
"A stylish debut that demonstrates both their immense
talent and impressive instincts."
THE NEXT BIG THING. Such a label serves at once as a curse and a blessing, for messianic crowns come studded with thorns, and chalices emblazoned with this inscription are often tainted with poison. Custodians of the title can implode under the weight of expectation, or fail to bottle further the magic of that first hit single.
Not so for English art-rock trio London Grammar. Hannah Reid, Dot Major and Dan Rothman have been careful to avoid the dangers of over-exposure in the nine months since first single "Hey Now" seared itself into the collective consciousness of the blogosphere, instead releasing work after work of gradually escalating beauty from the safety of the shadows.
That was until Disclosure dropped their album Settle, at which point London Grammar vocalist Hannah Reid came to wider attention on sweeping album closer "Help Me Lose My Mind," where her spine-tingling soulful singing combined with the wash of swooning synths and downbeat 80's percussion. It will come as no surprise to fans of this track to learn that Reid's magnificent vocals are integral to London Grammar's sound, serving as the perfect accompaniment to the band's discreet production and minimalist instrumentation.
The same words will be used ceaselessly to describe Reid's vocals in coming weeks - "haunting", "brooding", "ethereal". Yet none of these terms adequately conveys the way her voice melts and evolves to suit the temperament and melody of each song on If You Wait, flowing like molten gold on "Interlude", or acquiring the varied textures of a vast swathe of satin and silk on "Nightcall". Her vocal is always underscored by an enduring brittle beauty and an underlying otherworldliness, as if she honed her craft singing amidst the forests of Lothlórien, or some far-flung corner of Westeros.
Though her voice may be otherworldly, the thematic concerns of the album are very much rooted in this world - youth's timeless preoccupation with finding not only love but the nature of ourselves. These soundscapes and the lyrics that populate them are characterised by broken hearts, fractured dreams and people falling in and out of love. Perhaps the most telling lyric of all is on "Wasting My Young Years", with the heart-breaking concession of "I've heard it takes some time to get it right".
The album's first single and opening track "Hey Now" has lost none of its grandeur and remains as devastatingly beautiful as it did when released at the tail-end of 2012. It's the main track on If You Wait that justifies the comparisons with The XX - especially in terms of how the band forges the space and atmosphere from reverb-tinged percussion and Rothman's discreet, almost-spectral guitars. "Wasting My Young Years" further showcases how perfectly the band balance the interplay between Reid's vocal and the twinkling keys and subtle instrumentation that floats around it, allowing it to drive the song and dictate proceedings but never once to feel overbearing.
Latest single "Strong" mirrors the intricately weaved threadwork of sounds and elaborately crafted sense of space showcased on the opening track, but utilises a more hypnotic vocal from Reid that manages to sound simultaneously heart-rending and inspiring. Elsewhere "Interlude" is as refined a paean to love and devotion as you will hear all year, matching dual melancholic piano lines and subtly building percussion to Reid's sublime wistful singing.
There is not a single weak track, but amongst the many highlights is a spellbinding cover of French house artist Kavinsky's "Nightcall". There's a particularly gorgeous moment around the two-minute-thirty-second mark when the instrumentation is peeled away and, for a few seconds, you think the song will end - before Reid's dazzling vocal is re-introduced amidst a haze of swirling keys. It's nothing short of transcendent. Also, the flawless sequencing leads to an album that begs you to drink in its beauty by listening to it from beginning to end.
This is an enthralling, stunning, deeply emotive album that perfectly marries understated electronica to sublime vocals and melodies. In a year dominated by titanic LPs, London Grammar have not only made the most perfectly formed debut album of the year - they've made one of the best LPs, period. [A-]
- Benji Taylor (Pretty Much Amazing)1. Hey Now
2. Stay Awake
4.Wasting My Young Years
8. Metal & Dust
9. Interlude (Live)
11. If You Wait
13. High Life*
14. Strong (US Radio Edit)*
*US Bonus Track$24.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Truth Is A Beautiful ThingTruth Is A Beautiful Thing is the stunning new album from acclaimed British trio London Grammar, and the follow-up to their debut album If You Wait, which has sold almost 2 million copies worldwide.
Truth Is A Beautiful Thing was written by Hannah Reid, Dominic 'Dot' Major, and Dan Rothman - who poured their experiences from 30 months on the road into the new material. The album features production from Oscar-winning songsmith Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence & The Machine, Bloc Party), Mercury nominated Jon Hopkins (Coldplay, Brian Eno, King Creosote) and Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia, Beck), Tim Bran (La Roux, The Verve) and Roy Kerr (Birdy, James) who also worked on the band's debut, If You Wait.1. Rooting For You
2. Big Picture
3. Wild Eyed
4. Oh Woman Oh Man
5. Hell To The Liars
6. Everyone Else
7. Non Believer
8. Bones Of Ribbon
9. Who Am I
10. Leave The War With Me
11. Truth Is A Beautiful Thing$24.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Big PictureLondon Grammar emerged in 2013 with the release of their critically acclaimed debut album, If You Wait, and quickly went on to becoming one of the most exciting international breakthrough acts of recent times, selling over 1.5 million albums worldwide, winning a prestigious Ivor Novello Award for their hit single 'Strong' and being nominated for a BRIT Award.
Their new single, 'Big Picture,' was produced by acclaimed British musician Jon Hopkins (Brian Eno, King Creosote). This immense, sweeping soundscape is the second track to be heard from London Grammar this year, following the epic 'Rooting For You,' which the trio dropped unexpectedly on New Year's Day.1. Big Picture
2. Big Picture$14.997 Vinyl Single - Sealed Buy Now
Closing TimeWhen unassuming young Orkney music-maker Erland Cooper picked up his guitar and travelled the length of the country to play a show in London's
Notting Hill, little did he know that a chance encounter with musical veteran Simon Tong (The Verve, The Good The Bad & The Queen, and Gorillaz)
would be the start of a unique songwriting friendship. Together they formed Erland & The Carnival and now, nearly a decade later, arrives Closing Time -
the band's third, most accomplished album yet.
Opening a new chapter, Closing Time is an understated, inward looking collection of songs that feature stunning string arrangements and Erland's
impassioned vocals at centre stage. But rather than the modern folk adaptations of traditional songs, children's poems, and ancient literature on the
band's earlier albums or the pair's recent conceptual folklore project The Magnetic North, this time the band tell tales of a more personal nature.
"Previously we didn't know what we wanted to say or how to say it and would use stories and direct references to help us get to a place we could feel
secure," admits Simon. Erland adds; "in making this record we discarded an album's worth of material that sounded like the first two albums. We wanted
to make something different - doing another Jackson C Frank cover wasn't an option."
Above all, Closing Time is the very first time the listener can truly hear the wholly collaborative process that is Erland & The Carnival. Lyrical and musical
duties have always been shared, yet here the combined creativity of the pair's working friendship is only solidified with Erland taking a more 'hands on'
approach to production. The string arrangements, brought about by the album's unashamed twisted and selfish love song 'Quiet Love', were scored by
Simon before being recorded by a quartet in his living room later that week.
Recorded in Damon Albarn's studio13 with previous Erland & The Carnival engineer Steve Sedgewick and mixed by London Grammar producer Tim Bran
with Paul Weller guesting on two tracks. Despite creating more than 40 songs in the process of writing the album ("Some of the song melodies and ideas
on this may have even been written when I was 21 to be honest. 'Hopeless' certainly was," admits Erland), it was a brilliantly spontaneous and productive
time taking just over 3 days to come to fruition. "We learnt to be incredibly disciplined" tells Simon. "It feels like pruning a tree - when you cut away the
needless and weaker branches, what you get is something much fresher and stronger coming through."1. Closing Time
3. Quiet Love
4. I Am Joan
6. Is It Long 'Til It's Over?
7. Birth Of A Nation
8. That's The Way It Should Have Begun (But It's Hopeless)
9. They're Talking About You Again
10. Daughter$18.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now