London Grammar finally launches follow up to successful debut
The release of a second album is probably the most crucial moment in a pop career and this needs time. Especially for an act like London Grammar with an over 2 million copies selling debut album If You Wait, released back in 2013. Hannah Reid, Dan Rothman and Dominic Major took their sweet time and now four years later their sophomore album Truth Is A Beautiful Thing is available. Will London Grammar successfully survive this ‘make it or break it’ moment in their so far successful story?
With the release of a sophomore album, artists accept a challenge and have to make decisions that will change the rest of their career. Should they completely stick to the sound that made their debut so successful to keep the fans happy or should they switch things around to keep surprising and to attract a new audience? London Grammar does neither of these things, but found a beautiful balance that deepens their sound with personal growth and maturity. Life Is A Beautiful Thing is not radically different from If You Wait, but it is the work of a band that completely plays to their strengths, although this does mean the album does get samey after a while.
London Grammar showed that they did not need to play things save or go bigger and bolder with their sound to capture the attention when they kicked of their campaign on New Years Day with the hauntingly beautiful and extremely fragile ‘Rooting For You’. We get reminded immediately of the power of Hannah’s voice. Her sound is completely singular in today’s pop scene and easily London Grammar’s most important asset, but of course the mystical and dreamy productions complement her deep voice perfectly.
For Truth Is a Beautiful Thing London Grammar received help from star producer Greg Kurstin (Sia, Adele, Ellie Goulding) who brought some more beat with the catchy, repetitive choruses of ‘Everyone Else’ and ‘Leave The War With Me’, but it is Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence + the Machine, Rihanna) who perfectly captures the essence of the band with the stunning, ethereal ‘Hell To The Liars’ that keeps building up from a soaring chorus, until it can’t get any bigger, but at the same time still feels subdued and subtle. He is also responsible for the sound of current single ‘Oh Woman, Oh Man’ which provides a welcome change of pace with a laidback beat that lightly swings and some poetic lyrics about a relationship that seems to go downhill. In lead single ‘Big Picture’ Hannah looks back on this relationship, finally seeing it for it really was, while her voice is pushed into higher heights by calmly flowing drums.
London Grammar’s sound is pretty specific and does not allow a lot of variation on Truth Is A Beautiful Thing, but the question is if you really need that if the end product is a completely cohesive body of work with an immaculate production. And let’s be honest here, I would still hang on to every word she sings if it came straight out of a telephone directory. They might have to shake things up more to stay relevant for a third album, but they certainly passed the test of the sophomore album with grace!