REVIEW: London Grammar – If You Wait

london-grammar-if-you-wait-album-artSometimes here at PressPLAY HQ, we ponder some big questions as we wistfully stare out of a bay window. Such as: what would Britney and Justin’s child have looked like? Will any man ever be good enough for Khaleesi? And exactly what is it about London Grammar that has propelled them to stardom in such a short space of time?

Of course, the answer to the last question is easy if you’ve ever heard so much as a line of one of their tracks. The trio have hit the world with a steady stream of stunning releases, each more devastating than the last. If Hey Now was watching Mufasa die for the first time, Metal & Dust was the untimely loss of Lady Sybil, and Wasting My Young Years the realisation that Rizzle Kicks are still making music. Like we said: devastating.

That said, as Adele and her sales testify, us Brits are suckers for a female voice that gets us blubbering. That’s exactly the take-home from London Grammar’s sumptuous debut, If You Wait. As noted when we saw them live earlier this year, this curious meeting of the xx and Eva Cassidy benefits massively from Hannah Reid’s prodigious vocals, to the point that it occasionally feels like a solo launchpad.

But that’s not to detract from the contributions of Dot Major and Dan Rothman – the arrangements we’ve heard from them so far do well to rein in Reid, cold and sparse and Glass-like where another entity might pitch her as an X-Factor balladeer. Shyer and Sights do well to continue the mood set by the singles, capitalising on this (inter)national penchant for downbeat masochism and turning it into something unfailingly wonderful.

While the singles remain compelling – we envy the joy awaiting those yet to hear Strong – there are still another two stunners that reduce you to rubble. Nightcall is a chilling paean to emotional weakness and the title track, If You Wait, is quite simply one of the most heart-stoppingly gorgeous songs we’ve heard all year. Again, their success rests on Reid’s voice – there are so few singers who can effectively relay so much pain with the slightest inflections on the simplest words. On these two tracks in particular, the effect is beyond stunning.

Stripping back all the frills and hype, all the bloggers’ superlatives (that we too have been guilty of), we’re still left with a consistently strong album without a single misstep – inventive, intelligent, lyrical, and affecting, If You Wait is everything good music should be. Buy it immediately.