Jun 26, 2014 Web Exclusive
Working Out, the debut LP from London quartet Arthur Beatrice, doesn't rush into anything. It takes its time building a quiet atmosphere to dwell in for a while, and then it just kind of stays there. It envelops the listener in a hazy fog of dreamy pop. It's not weighed down by effects or gimmicks. And it's a really gorgeous record that ultimately doesn't go anywhere.
Working Out is muted in so many ways, but rests comfortably in a darkly romantic atmosphere that is honestly quite beautiful. It's also very familiar, and not in the sparkling nostalgic way. It's haunting and spacey, but restrained. There's deep, soulful piano jangling and hooky choruses, laid over consistently paced beats. Lead vocal duties alternate between Orlando Leopard and Ella Girardot, who are both great singers, but lack any standout characteristics. Which isn't inherently bad, but it's especially noticeable in songs that fit the same description. Lead single "Midland" is a great song, and the album closer "Ornament and Safeguard" is close to fantastic, but even their brightest moments are kind of forgettable. Leopard and Girardot sound best when they complement each other, which unfortunately isn't often enough.
But it is not an album defined by its flatness. It has more than enough moments of pristine clarity to carry through a few listens, and while it sticks to a small palette of tones it never repeats itself.
Creatively, Working Out doesn't cover a lot of ground, but it's really good in the little space it's carved out for itself. (www.online-presence.info)
Author rating: 6/10