The album covers of British trio London Grammar’s two records speak volumes. Both the band’s debut record If You Wait and their new album Truth Is A Beautiful Thing feature an image of the group’s three members. The single difference is that the latest album presents front-woman Hannah Reid at the foreground of the cover, with drummer Dot Major and guitarist Dan Rothman pushed to the background. The images represent the transformation that London Grammar has undergone since they released their debut through to the current day – none at at all. The group are still creating the exact same music without variation. The only change is that for Truth Is A Beautiful Thing, it seems obvious that they have realised their music revolves around Reid’s powerful voice.
To say London Grammar rely on Reid’s commanding vocals would be an understatement. Reid’s voice is the centrepiece of Truth Is A Beautiful Thing. On almost every track, the production is hauntingly atmospheric and minimal, building gently in the far background while Reid sings immensely about past, present and future relationships. Although the production is minimal, Reid’s voice itself serves as an instrument, exemplified by her high “ooohs” and low “ohs” on tracks such as ‘Wild Eyed’ and ‘Oh Woman Oh Man’. The overweighted trust in Reid becomes tiring in the latter stages of the record, as London Grammar’s blueprint is overdone.
Once you’ve heard one song on Truth Is A Beautiful Thing, you’ve heard them all. Like London Grammar’s debut, the sophomore effort follows a calculated plan. A quiet introduction of stirring synths, the addition of Reid’s beautifully spacious vocals, then the song develops through an orchestral string section, arpeggiated guitar chords and twinkling piano keys. On If You Wait, there was at least the Disclosure collaboration, ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’, that strayed from the London Grammar outline, providing a dance-floor ready banger. However, on the band’s new record, there is only the Jon Hopkins-produced track ‘Big Picture’, ‘Oh Woman Oh Man’ and ‘Non Believer’ that provide somewhat upbeat moments. But even these songs are only upbeat in the context that the rest of the album is extremely dour.
A slight positive to take from London Grammar’s song blueprint is that Truth Is A Beautiful Thing is, in essence, a cohesive record. Cohesive in the sense that there’s hardly a difference between each track. For this reason, the cohesiveness isn’t really a good thing when it comes to this record. It drifts along painstakingly slowly, while not providing a genuine high point following ‘Big Picture’, which is just the second song into Truth Is A Beautiful Thing. And maybe that’s why it is a highlight – because it’s so early on the album. But following this, the album is mostly a regurgitation of every other London Grammar song.
The first two singles released from Truth Is A Beautiful Thing, ‘Rooting For You’ and ‘Big Picture’, were encouraging signs that London Grammar had progressed their dynamic. But, the expectations that the trio set early in the album are not met after this. The spotlight is shone far too brightly on Reid’s vocal exhibition, when the group’s production needed more energy to meet the front-woman’s strong display. Due to this, London Grammar have not developed whatsoever from their debut album.
Highlight – ‘Big Picture’