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London Grammar – If You Wait

London Grammar – 'If You Wait' album review

Notwithstanding some nice downbeat touches, this is an undercooked and monotonous debut

By Tom Slater
As the days become shorter and an uncommonly balmy English summer begins to wane, the debut album from sombre pop three-piece London Grammar arrives like a sudden, unwelcome blast of autumn wind. Since releasing their first single last December and nabbing a feature spot on Disclosure’s ‘Settle’, they’ve been racking up festival slots, garnering a beehive’s worth of buzz and attracting unrelenting comparisons to The XX.

But while ‘If You Wait’ serves up similarly chilly, ethereal sadscapes, they lack any of the Putney trio’s tears-on-the-dancefloor verve. Muffled drums crunch like fallen leaves underfoot while chiming guitar lines glide through the mix, but it feels undercooked and repetitive: little flourishes, from the Rhodes licks of opener ‘Hey Now’ to the dub guitar clatter of ‘Flickers’, fail to break up the sullen monotony.

Soaring above it all is front-woman Hannah Reid’s sublime vocal, which moves effortlessly between an unassuming Joni Mitchell-esque falsetto and diaphragm-straining Florence Welch theatrics. But she’s let down by listless lyrics about crumbling relationships and bittersweet late-night rendezvous that are so nondescript they’re not worth quoting. ‘If You Wait’ is a slick affair and not without its downbeat charm, but it’s incurably samey and skin-deep: an album that leaves you cold. Buy this album here

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