Album Review: London Grammar, If You Wait
London Grammar’s highly anticipated debut longplayer, If You Wait, is the culmination of 18 painstaking months spent writing and recording with producers Tim Bran (The Verve, Richard Ashcroft, La Roux) and Roy Kerr. Keen to fashion their own behind-the-scenes dreamteam, they also drafted in Roc Nation’s KD (Outkast, Beyoncé, Jay-Z) to mix the record, while Grammy-winning Tom Coyne (Adele’s 21) joined them to master. With that kind of clout behind it, If You Wait ought to be something special…
Anyone who heard singles (both of which appear on the album) Hey Now and Wasting My Young Years already knows that the British three-piece can pen a pleasing tune. Wasting My Young Years, for instance, is delightful; with rumbling musical drive lifted by emotive, strong vocals. Indeed, Hannah Reid’s voice is the real attraction here. Imagine if Florence Welch fronted The xx, while at the same time calming the fuck down and not being so bombastic… you’d get somewhere close to the London Grammar sound. At the very moment you think Reid is going to burst your eardrums with a Welch-esque cacophonous chorus, she restrains and pulls it back, with haunting results. Elsewhere, the record’s title track closes proceedings with textures and nuances, while some offerings – Metal and Dust for instance – have a certain Massive Attack vibe to them.
If there is a problem though, it is that there is nothing here that could really be described as especially edgy. It’s as though bringing in this mega-production team has also smoothed away any potential rough edges, which are often the most interesting part of a record. That said, there are some noteworthy reference points and plenty of undeniably enjoyable moments. Ultimately, this is a promising starting point and London Grammar are certainly a band worth keeping on your radar.
The band have just announced a special digital preview of the album this week. Register for the listening session via www.londongrammar.com/ifyouwait. London Grammar play at Falls Festival and at Field Day this year, so check them out if you’re heading along.
Review by Bobby Townsend