London Grammar

If You Wait

Metal & Dust/Columbia

Sep 17, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


More than the navel gazing album of 2013 (although its shadowy, late-night vibe certainly does invite the thinking of deep thoughts), London Grammar's debut full-length If You Wait represents a strong argument for instrumental austerity. With songs comprised of delicate cobwebs of little more than keys, guitar, and vocalist Hannah Reid's soprano slur, the London-based trio captures the fragile emotional state of youth rather than settling for an apathetic shade of gray. (Let's see The xxa band London Grammar is often compared totry that.)

It isn't that we haven't heard their particular brand of melancholy before. "Metal & Dust" in particular owes a debt of gratitude to Massive Attacks' "Unfinished Sympathy," while many will rush to brand Reid the new Sia Furler. (Like Furler's partnership with Zero 7, Reid recently proved she could play with the electro kids on Disclosure's debut.) But London Grammar deliver their hard-won truths with such an aching sincerity it becomes impossible not to listen. "What are you afraid of?/Making it better?" Reid asks against the slow build of "Sighs." But it isn't just a skillful hand at crescendos that builds emotion. "Flickers" pull back to mere percussion and voice and still manages to construct a darkened-street intimacy. The three-piece also manages to successfully flip the script on Kavinsky song "Nightcall," infusing the icy track with a breathy, flesh-and-blood immediacy that surpasses the original's electronic chill. There's beauty in the band's hesitancy, young musicians feeling their way forward together. The chorus "Wasting My Young Years" hangs on the heart-wrenching promise, "I've heard it takes some time to get it right." For all their introspection, it seems like London Grammar are already surprisingly close to nailing it. (www.londongrammar.com)

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