London Grammar – If You Wait

Heavily touted English trio London Grammar are the latest act to release a debut album bearing the ‘much anticipated’ tag. Formed in 2009, they have been quietly building a sizable fan base to the extent that before they had even released a record, their song ‘Hey Now’ had received 800,000 hits on Youtube. 

Mining the same sparse, emotive indie Rock that has worked so successfully for bands like The XX and Daughter, London Grammar are a band that seem perfectly poised to appeal to fans of the aforementioned bands but their debut  album If You Stay just doesn’t connect in the same way.

It’s hard to pinpoint why this is the case, but there is something chilly and aloof about so many of the songs on If You Wait. Singer Hannah Reid has a striking, impressive voice, very much in the Florence Welch mode. It is technically very strong and takes centre stage on every one of these tracks as Dot Major and Dan Rothman create an ambient, spacious backdrop for Ms Reid’s sometimes over dramatic emoting.

But as an album, it rarely really hits the target; it is frequently an impressive record, a rich and highly stylised package that never really draws the listener in.

Occasionally, it hits its stride with the arresting ‘Wasting My Young Years’ and ‘Strong’ delivering what you would expect from a band that was widely tipped to be shortlisted for the Mercury Prize with this debut. But many of these tracks float by without making any real impact – the slick, well produced sound failing to mask the fact that this is a record lacking in really memorable songs.

A song like ‘Flickers’ is dull and listless while ‘Nightcall’ sounds like a shameless facsimile of Lana Del Rey at her most overwrought.

If You Wait displays some promise but far too frequently settles for a mediocre middle ground that leaves the listener cold and unmoved.
2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)