London Grammar hit the scene strong with their first album, If You Wait. It provides a fresh sound with lead singer Hannah’s Reid’s unique voice and a minimalist production. Someone once described them as a mix of Florence Welsh and The xx, which I would say is fair. They recently played in Toronto, so if you caught them and are getting into them, or want to know more of what the hype is about, here are my thoughts.
One of the first things you’ll notice about London Grammar and what will likely hook you in is the amazing voice of lead singer Hannah Reid. As mentioned, comparisons have been made to Florence Welsh from Florence and the Machine, but the more you hear Reid’s voice the more it stands out on its own. It has a vulnerability to it, but also strength at the same time, like someone facing their weaknesses and being okay with them, just letting them show. Many times Reid seems on the brink of tears, such as on the last lines of “Wasting My Young Years,” but she is still able to bring things back powerfully.
Reid’s voice mixes well with the themes of the album, which deal largely with the struggles of relationships, as it gives the lyrics a tangible feel of a woman who puts her heart out there, often to be hurt. For example, in the opener “Hey Now,” it is like a call to arms, like talking to a lover to get their act together and stop running away from a connection that could actually be quite rare. Or in the song “Strong,” Reid shows frustration at being “wide eyed” and “caught in the middle,” but it is apparent that there is an acceptance of the hurt that can come from putting yourself out there since it can be worthwhile.
Apart from Reid’s vulnerability that gives the album some soul, the minimalist production backs up her vocals well. Beats are used subtly to drive the songs forward and give them momentum. Some of the riffs can be catchy, such as in “Hey Now,” and often tastefully accompany Reid’s voice, such as in “Strong,” where the guitar dances around in the background. Again though, the main star of London Grammar is Reid’s voice. Overall I would strongly recommend anyone to check out London Grammar for some low key tunes, and definitely expect to hear more from them in the future.