London Grammar are going to draw comparisons to many of their UK contemporaries – they’re like the xx with balladry, Florence Welch without the ostentation, and Reid’s voice is very Jessie Ware at times. This is by no means a bad thing though, and their delicate, organic songwriting will go a long way.
London Grammar gained a lot of traction off their beautiful Metal & Dust EP, and through vocalist Hannah Reid’s collaboration with Disclosure on their track ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’. Their debut album If You Wait is a further exploration of their sound through themes of love and relationships.
Album opener ‘Hey Now’ is a perfectly produced track that dances with despair, as Reid’s gorgeous, deep voice speaks volumes: “Hey now / Letters burning by my bed for you / Hey now / I can feel my instincts here for you”. The percussive guitar plucks, sparing drum echoes and swelling synth pads blossom around Reid’s strong vocals and it all makes you feel so close yet distant; strong yet so vulnerable; warm but so cold.
And Reid’s vocals are really the lynchpin to London Grammar – the instrumentation is like a beautifully sprinkled garnish over her absolute main course of a voice. As she continues to hone her craft, here’s hoping Reid will utilise the strength of her lower register more often, where a husky, powerful voice emerges from a girl who looks far too cute and blonde and small to produce that kind of sound.
The sombre cover of ‘Nightcall’ is a take on Kavinsky’s ’80s electro soundtrack (the theme for 2011 film Drive). London Grammar strip the song of its electronic backbone, and when it is Reid bleeding anguish out of the words instead of the dehumanising vocoder on Kavinsky’s version, it becomes an anthem of sorrow and loneliness.
BY RAF SENEVIRANTE
If You Wait is out now through Dew Process.