London Grammar are right about truth, you know. There’s a beautiful honesty in every verb Hannah Reid delivers and every melody they create, but there’s also nothing wrong in admitting that Truth Is A Beautiful Thing – only their second album to date – misses a lot of what made the trio so compelling to begin with.
That’s not for lack of trying, mind you. The dramatic soundscapes they’re known for are present and correct, but they take a more leisured journey in etching out the canvas. It’s at its most rewarding early on with Wild Eyed, layered ever so slowly and gently and creating a resplendent repetition of beats around Reid’s booming voice.
Ah, that voice. It’s weirdly their biggest selling point that sometimes hold London Grammar back, given just how incredible those tones are. When they’re not complemented correctly, or given enough room to breathe, the songs end up neither here nor there; on the flip side songs like Hell To The Liars don’t quite make a case for themselves, seemingly built around the capacity for Reid to do her thing instead of going as seamlessly hand-in-hand as their first album.
There are a few surprises though. Everyone Else ought to be a single given it’s welcome pop-leaning chorus (well, as pop as London Grammar can get), and it’s great to see the envelope being pushed slightly for Non Believer. But it’s hard to find any more songs that are even as remotely memorable as anything on their debut, with the trio very much reminding us why the second album is often called ‘difficult’. There’s way too much navel-gazing, too much aimless wandering, and – given how much we adore them – nothing pains us more than this truth, beautiful or not.