Music

London Grammar – If You Wait – review

Every once in a while a band will come along and you will immediately sense that they’re something special. London Grammar first arrived on the scene in early 2013, and the music community had quickly laid a thick, heavy weight of expectation upon their skinny hipster shoulders.

london grammar artwork

You’ve heard the singles. ‘Metal & Dust’ whets our appetites with its eerie atmosphere and its strange sounds. ‘Wasting My Young Years’ is delicious, serving a profound ballad with a side of royal strings woven together with lead vocalist Hannah Reid’s angelic voice and lyrics of lament (I don’t know what you want/don’t leave me hanging on). ‘Strong’, their minimalist anthem, the ballad everyone wants to dance to, leaves us salivating for more – and we’ve waited. Now we’re ready for the main course.

If You Wait is a collection of music by introverted, creative prodigies expressing themselves. Not exactly an album-full of party banging choooons, these tracks should be listened to with fervent scrutiny. This is a piece of art for the musically intellectual that would leave Miley Cyrus baffled while she licks a hammer and sings about getting wildly inebriated.

Hannah Reid doesn’t lick hammers, but her beautiful, operatic voice is powerful enough to drive a nail through steel. Yet it carries the vulnerability for you to believe in what she’s singing. In the sinister, confessional ‘Nightcall’, (“I’m gonna show you where it’s dumped, but have no fear”) you genuinely believe her sense of guilt and despair.

Band members Dot Major and Dan Rothman’s musicality is varied enough to keep us interested, even though London Grammar’s minimal style doesn’t carry much scope for variation. Bongos in ‘Flickers’ enhance the band’s rhythmic quality, whilst a collaboration with Disclosure combines two polarising bands into a perfect concoction, creating a middle ground sophisticated enough to satisfy both sets of fans.

Title track If You Wait, meanwhile, will satisfy anyone. There’s an infinite guarantee that it will crush your heart into a thousand tiny pieces and then fix it up again. In short, it’s incredibly special.

If we are splitting hairs, then songs like ‘Shyer’ and ‘Help’ contribute little to the band’s repertoire – but their music is so consistently beautiful it seems almost sacrilege to skip a track. These are the interludes that join the hits together, crafting a continually flowing masterpiece.
London Grammar are first and foremost an album band, and what they have created is precious enough to be showcased in a museum in 1000 years time. It’s different, creative, and possibly revolutionary. Let’s wait to find out.

20/09/2013

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Sam Day