Artist: London Grammar
Album: If You Wait
Tracks: 11 (+6 Deluxe)
Release Date: 9th September 2013
Label: Metal & Dust Recordings – Columbia
Every year around Christmas time, we find our cash reserves dwindling, the pressures of buying gifts for the in-laws slowly getting to us, and the constant effort to try to make ourselves feel the Christmas Spirit. This can be quite taxing, so it’s very important to find some kind of outlet – a way to relax. Some of you may take candle-lit baths, or treat yourself to a take-away, but whatever you find yourself doing, I suggest that London Grammar’s new album If You Wait should be the soundtrack.
The first time I was introduced to Nottingham-originated band; London Grammar, I found myself driving along an A-road with the muffled background music of the radio. I found myself sub-consciously turning it up, and listening less and less to anyone attempting to talk to me. The song on the radio was Nightcall which was the band’s third single, gracing the airwaves on the 8th December this year. When I forced people to listen to the song, I was met with “She sounds like Florence Welch”, referring to Hannah Reid, the deep and dulcet contralto for London Grammar. I was also met with comments about the eerie-pop themes, evocative of Lana Del Rey laced with the gentle guitar melodies that you may hear in The xx’s music.
After hearing Nightcall, I got myself a copy of the album, and laid in a dark room with headphones on, or as I like to call it – research. If You Wait has a similar effect to Pink Floyd, you find yourself being lulled to sleep by the swells of Dan Rothman’s guitar, and soothed by the calming vocals of Hannah Reid, and the trance-like, come tribal beats of Dot Major, yet on the other hand you find yourself fighting the sheep that demand to be counted so that you can hear every nuance in the lyrics and every heart-breaking harmony.
Songs such as the eponymous track If You Wait, are simply constructed, beginning only with a melancholic piano chord progression, embellished by Reid’s mournful wail (And I mean wail in the most positive way.) If pathetic fallacy could be applied to music then the Rothman/Major combination really completes Reid, exaggerating every intimate emotion conveyed.
This is a characteristic which appears again and again on the album. Notably with Help, and Shyer. However, the album contains many unexpected gems on the first time listen. When you have grown accustomed to the mellow combination of keyboards and guitar, you come across songs such as Nightcall, which start as many of the rest do; quiet and unassuming, yet from three minutes into the song, it converts from that quiet song into a 90′s styled drum and bass track. Well, that may be slightly misleading. What I should say is that the track morphs into something that you may hear from Massive Attack, who are most well-known for their song Teardrop. If I have described this as well as I hope, you’ll understand how the pace is expertly picked up and energized, without losing any of its calming effect. I must say that the first time I heard it, I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to dance, or to lay there in peaceful awe.
Now, there have been many positives that I’ve had to say about this album, and quite deservedly so. Unfortunately, as with most things, there are some negatives to be taken away from it. The beauty and gentleness of the first listen, through songs like Flickers and Sights, which are two of my personal favourites, there is a danger in over-listening very quickly. It’s one of those albums that’s almost too good for its own good. I found for me that I was so fond of it, that I listened rather intensively, then ended up hearing the songs one too many times and had to take a break before they ended up into the realms of not really wanting to hearing them any more.
It can also be said that If You Wait can be repetitive in places, and it’s hard to tell where one song ends and another begins. Some may say this is due to expert producing and song positioning, whereas I say the songs could have done with a little more diversity.
In case you hadn’t noticed, this album is a resounding YES for me and demands a listen as soon as possible! Just be careful not to over play! Then again, when you’re up against an album that made iTunes UK’s ‘Album of the Year’, then resistance may just be futile.
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