Truth Is A Beautiful Thing
June 9 2017 (Ministry Of Sound)
Words: Richard Cobb
London Grammar’s debut album ‘If You Wait’ was 2013’s equivalent of that bike I’d always wanted, and when it finally arrived, I didn’t give it the attention it deserved and it just sat there all sad whilst gathering dust. Onto their new album, I’d try to give this one more daylight.
Opener and first single ‘Rooting for You’ wouldn’t have sounded out of place if it soundtracked Gandalf escaping on a giant eagle, during a slow motion battle scene that’s happening in a field somewhere as Frodo’s busy being a dick to his best mate - such is the atmosphere of the song. The instruments are minimal throughout, but the vocals from Hannah Reid are captivating and it’s easy to get transported to another place whilst listening to it.
‘Big Picture’ is the album’s triumph. The production from Jon Hopkins adds colour and layers to the track. With the guitar build up, the song feels like a slow burning fuse at the end of a firework and just as it’s about to take off and burst into life-it ends. On first listen I felt this was a pity, as it had potential to be something much bigger. Though a few listens later, it’s far easier to appreciate the song’s magic for what it is, rather than what it could have been.
There’s elements of The XX and Alt J about last single ‘Oh Woman Oh Man.’ The powerful guitar driven chorus and chilled out drum beat combine to make the song sound something special. ‘Non Believer’ is a slowed down drum and bass song which breaks up the album nicely to give it more depth. As strong as the start of the album Is, this song feels important as it gives it another dimension, without sounding out of place. ‘Bones of Ribbon’ carries on down a similar path, quite different to the start of the album. There’s more pace here, with an incessant drum beat almost grabbing it by the scruff of the neck to get to the end.
Title track and album closer ‘Truth Is a Beautiful Thing’ opens with blissful and thought provoking piano which remains throughout to duet with the vocals. Not a lot happens from there really, but it’s a suitable end to the album, acting almost like the end credits at the end of a heart-wrenching movie.
Production wise ‘Truth Is A Beautiful Thing’ is a joy and there’s a real fluency which I hadn’t thought possible, given it had a number of different producers on board throughout the 11 tracks. It doesn’t so much go in a different direction to the sound and thought process of the first album, more builds an extension to them. This is massively important for the longevity of any band as it signals that they won’t lose sight of what they set out to do in the first place, but they’re keeping the ideas flowing, almost adding an extra layer of paint to it. It might finally be time to dust off that old bike from the garage.