Art rock is a broad spectrum and one that if not given due attention can fall short. What London Grammar set out to achieve with If You Wait was to re-define art-rock in a more mainstream form while not in a sense ‘selling out’ and this achievement cannot be understated. The bold trio who met at Nottingham University caught the public’s eye when featuring on the final track of this year’s breakthrough album – Disclosure’s Settle. In ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’, lead singer Hannah Reid received universal praise for her vocals and London Grammar were etched into the minds of bloggers and journalists nationwide.
If You Wait builds on the general flow of the Disclosure track but with a far more nuanced and patient approach. Opener ‘Hey Now’ is something a little bit special – a solid introduction to Reid’s phenomenal vocal input to the LP backed up by math-rock style floaty guitars and succeeded by ‘Stay Awake’, who’s opening thirty seconds delivers a drum beat reminiscent of Radiohead’s ‘Reckoner’ – this being one of numerous goosebump-inducing moments appearing in droves over the course of the record.
Reid may be the driving force but what becomes clear over the course of the first, second and continued listens to the album is the strength of production. Each instrumental input is like fitting a piece into the perfect jigsaw puzzle, from the resonating backing vocals and bongos of ‘Flicker’ (a tune which allows Reid to display her truly epic vocal range, not only deeply soulful but as sassy as they come) to the steel drums in the epic ‘Shyer’. You just never quite know what to expect.
Popular single ‘Wasting My Young Years’ released back in June is still undoubtedly a highlight and carries with it the somewhat unfair labelling of Reid as Florence Welch numero deux when in fact she is far more. What the track also does is communicate the simple beauty of the trio’s lyrics, they’re young, wild and free and they know it, as also highlighted in the quicker-paced ‘Metal and Dust’ which echoes with the sounds of, “We argue we don’t fight/stay awake in the middle of the night”.
The accolades to come for London Grammar will be numerous and their up-and-coming sell out tour is testament to that. Just like their sponsors, the mighty Disclosure, they are redefining a genre and making it popular whilst staying in touch with why they began in the first place. This is most strongly apparent in the final minute of the closing title track, its finality and beauty sums up the ethereal standout qualities of one of 2013’s best LPs.