1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 57

If You Wait, by London Grammar
Suggested by Paul Wray

If you wait half an hour for a bus, then it’s guaranteed that three will turn up at once.

After two albums of peerless guitar virtuosity, will If You Wait be that metaphorical third bus? Or will it, like its cover suggests, bring things back down to earth with a hipster-fuelled crash?

I’ve got money on the latter, folks.

London Grammar are a three-piece indie pop band formed in Nottingham in 2009. If You Wait is their debut album. After listening to it, I’m in no particular rush to check out their second.

The songs were nice enough, though a little too downbeat for me, like Dido meets Eels. I could see it working as a calming influence after a chaotic day. It’s a soothing sound, but it often saunters into the boring part of town. I’m reminded of Enigma a little, soon enough after reviewing MCMXC a.D. that I can still hear the vestiges of a Gregorian Chant if I close my eyes and bite my tongue.

On the other hand, its personal lyrics, concentrating on vocalist Hannah Reid’s teenage upbringing, do bring a sense of resolve that belies the laid-back vibe. Unfortunately, I don‘t think her voice does the subject matter any favours. Don’t get me wrong, Hannah’s sound is engaging. It’s breathless, high, and beautiful. There’s also a brittle edge, as if Hannah is in danger of shattering should she lose focus. It’s a style choice, and a genuinely interesting one.

My favourite song is a tossup between the dreamy Nightcall and the subtle build of Metal & Dust. I give it to Metal & Dust overall, as that’s what my current state of mind decreed, but I don’t particularly care either way. Nightcall is nice enough too. Maybe, after reviewing two full albums of frenetic guitar masturbation, I was too hyped and champing to suffer through such a downplayed slow-fi trickle.

In another time or place, I may have happened upon this album in a more accepting frame of mind. I give London Grammar 5/10 for If You Wait. I wated a long time for something exciting to happen, but, like Godot, it didn’t arrive.

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