If You Wait
Rating: 3 stars
You won’t need to wait long to understand the sound of London Grammar. It’s all there on “Hey Now,” the UK trio’s opening track of this, their debut album. Hushed piano chords and lazy, languid, circular guitar lines create a bed that lead singer Hannah Reid floats above with a luxurious, chocolate syrupy voice somewhere between Kate Bush, Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan and Alison Moyet. The drum loops arrive on cue for a cool yet artsy chill out groove that defines the band’s unique, almost hypnotic vibe.
A few upbeat flashes shift the threesome into a higher gear, but never for long as this year and a half in the making disc sets its cruise control and barely wavers from it for 45 minutes. Reid is the main attraction and she takes full advantage of the spotlight. Her clear, sumptuous vocals are sexy without being coy as she sings predominantly melancholy songs ratcheting up the drama as the disc unwinds. These performances swim in a pool of reverb and echo that soak them in a cool, detached atmosphere impossible not to appreciate.
It takes a few spins to distinguish the melodies, which on first listen start to feel repetitious about halfway through. But the effort pays off even if more spirited tempos would help keep your attention from wandering during the sleepier moments of “Stay Awake,” a track whose moody, trance-like rhythms are ultimately captivating. When Reid breaks free as she does on “Shyer,” it’s clear that her talent could transcend the musical boundaries she surrounds herself with on this atmospheric, head swaying disc.
There’s no dancing allowed but anyone looking for a calm come-down after a night at the clubs, London Grammar speaks your language.