Rhapsody Radar: London Grammar
by Philip Sherburne | October 24, 2013
London Grammar are no strangers to electronic music; their first big break came via a guest spot on Disclosure's Settle, and they cover Kavinsky's "Nightcall" on their own debut album. But while other indie pop artists are embracing dance beats and digital processing, the London trio does its best to downplay the role that circuitry plays in its quiet, supple sound. The ghost of trip-hop inhabits their artfully constructed atmospheres. Dubby snare rolls and copious reverb serve as subtle reminders of the pre-millennial tensions conjured by Portishead and Massive Attack, although their spare, judicious arrangements make sure the focus remains on the songwriting rather than the gear list. In that respect, London Grammar recall The xx and James Blake, two contemporaries who know how to balance mood and melody, while singer Hannah Reid's limpid voice invariably (and correctly) draws comparisons to Florence Welch. Their debut album, 2013's If You Wait, is a master class in the pleasure of despondence; depending upon your mood, it may feel less like an album than a darkened room to retreat to when the world outside is just too much. "I'm wasting my young years/ It doesn't matter/ I'm chasing old ideas/ It doesn't matter," sings Reid on "Wasting My Young Years," but that certainly couldn't be said of London Grammar.