Is London Grammar really a band or a solo project?
Four years again… London Grammar released their second album about four years after their debut, in 2017. Now, on 16th April 2021, they are back in the promotion loop with their third album, Californian Soil. I was curious about how the band sounds like nowadays. Here is my review.
London Grammar – About The Artists
London Grammar are an English indie pop / dream pop band. Despite the name, the trio consisting of Hannah Reid, Dominic “Dot” Major and Dan Rothman is coming from Nottingham. Also if you read the press release (which is majorly about her story of the album), Hannah Reid is the clear start of the band. She was born on 30th December 1989 and went to school in West London. She moved to Nottingham in order to study at the University there, where she finally met Rothman. London Grammar is active since 2009, they moved back to London in 2011 in order to pursue their musical career. They debuted with an EP, Metal & Dust, which has been released in February 2013 and had a reasonable chart position in Australia. The same year, they had their by far most successful single, Strong, which was Top 10 in Belgium and Australia, but had good chart positions in other countries. Their best chart position overall, though, was the single before that, Wasting My Young Years, which went second in France.
This all lead a great success of their debut album If You Wait, released in September 2013, which went double platinum in their home country and platinum in Australia. In addition, the album went Top 10 in Belgium (French / Dutch charts), France, Ireland and Switzerland. Four years later, they album Truth Is a Beautiful Thing even topped the UK and Belgium (French) charts, even though none of the singles could really lead to a remarkable chart position.
London Grammar – Californian Soil – Track by Track
The twelve track album lasts 44 minutes.
Strings, high voice vocals – it feels like this album simply needs this introduction, even though it takes over two minutes. Welcome to another world, the world of London Grammar and Californian Soil.
2. Californian Soil
If you ever wonder, why dream pop is called dream pop – this is the answer to your question. Rhythmic tunes, which create an atmosphere which somehow feels to be out of this world. The video has over two million views already – London Grammar are definitely still in the hearts of their fans, four years after their previous album.
Even though Missing is coming with the signature sound of the band, the snipping sound in the background and the general vibe of the track give a touch of soul and thus feels special. Finally, when Reid is singing, it feels like a prayer to me: you just relax and listen to the lyrics. Strong one.
4. Lose Your Head
I need to learn When this thing called love When it’s a mirror, baby Can you see all those parts of me Broken across the world? I need to find some kind of peace of mind It’s a demon, baby When it comes like my oldest friend Have you got a friend in the night?
Lose Your Head is the second track on the album, which has been released as a single before the album. It again plays with symphonic and dreamy moods. When Reid states What a way to lose your head / What a way to go to bed, it feels very energetic, almost angry in some parts. The album centers around her thoughts and feelings. This one is a beautiful example for that.
5. Lord It’s A Feeling
The jungles at the beginning of the song almost give a lullaby feeling. But during its 4:12 minutes duration, it gaines more power, works with lovely backing vocals and a lot of impressive mood. Good one.
6. How Does It Feel
The single release How Does It Feel is surprisingly pop-ish. A quite unexpected tune by London Grammar – but it is a great listen. One of my favorites, for sure.
7. Baby It’s You
This one is about a meeting a person for the time and all the emotions related to it. The song does spread more self-confidence than others on the album – but it is rather a track a can less relate to.
8. Call Your Friends
The style of London Grammar carries a certain risk from my side: either the song is catching you from the very beginning or it will likely never do. The style is very uniform, there are rare melodic moments, which suddenly attract the listener. This is what is happens to me with Call Your Friends. No matter how often I listen to it, it just does not get me.
9. All My Love
The powerful vocals (which feel extremely choral) and the keyboard sounds give a very special and characteristic sound here. Thus, All My Love is just the complete opposite to Call Your Friends to me individually: I do listen to it and enjoy. I would not necessarily say it is the better song though.
Reid is doing a lot of alterations to her voice. The song feels quite dark, a bit of desparate. I like the way London Grammar create this dark feeling in the song – and thus enjoy to listen to Talking.
11. I Need The Night
I Need The Night is another song which has quite some melodic and rhythmic elements. Thus, it comes with a much more mainstream-ish touch than the songs before.
But all of our time chasing America Though she never had a home for me All of our time chasing a dream Hmm-hmm, hmm-hmm A dream that meant nothing to me
The album closes with one of its most beautiful one, America. The song deals with the first tour travels with the band – which has been the first reason for Reid to travel. A nice ballad.
London Grammar – Californian Soil – Spotify
Here is Californian Soil on Spotify:
London Grammar – Californian Soil – My View
Californian Soil is definitely a special album. It comes with a lot of character – but also with personal stories. To me, the album feels much more than a solo album than a band album – which I would see as a critical. On top of that, the album is somehow a bit limited – which is sad, as here and there, great moments and surprising songs pop up. Not bad at all, but not a must-buy / must-listen as well.