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London Grammar - Californian Soil (Album Review)

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 Written by Alex Myles

Since the release of their double platinum debut ‘If You Wait’ in 2013, London Grammar have impressively managed to maintain a foothold in the mainstream of British pop while retaining nuances that are so identifiably theirs—Hannah Reid’s evocative contralto being their main USP.

Yet while listening to ‘Californian Soil’, it soon becomes obvious that the three piece have shelved many of their once demonstrable quirks for a blander, more commercial sound. Though the plaintive melodies and trip-hoppy timbres are still discernible, brazen overproduction and inane lyrics make this album a largely underwhelming effort.   

Reid has taken up many column inches in the press for the album, ruminating on moments of misogyny in an industry that’s still shamefully known for its mistreatment of women.

But there is none of this fortitude in her lyrics, and  London Grammar’s musical trademarks offer little back up as that thick layer of studio paint glosses over any real personality. 

Though guitarist Daniel Rothman adds interesting flavours to tracks he may as well be playing the triangle, for the reverb-soaked synths, gaudy, faux-cinematic strings, and multi-layered vocals consistently overpower him.  

With the prolific big name songwriter and producer Steve Mac among the faces behind the desk, it seems that London Grammar have to a certain extent done what’s expected of them. Lead single How Does It Feel is classic Mac, with a crescendoing pre-chorus followed by an EDM-style drop—surely a cardinal sin for any artist with designs on leaving with their integrity intact.  

‘Californian Soil’ is an album that will still please the band’s fanbase—many a light jog or a sunset Aperol spritz will be soundtracked by the soothing, ethereal tones of the band. But aside from this ambient scene-setting, London Grammar’s third full length doesn’t achieve much.

London Grammar Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri August 27 2021 - LONDON Victoria Park
Mon September 20 2021 - KINGSTON UPON THAMES New Slang (Pryzm)
Sat September 25 2021 - LEEDS Leeds Beckett University
Mon September 27 2021 - OXFORD O2 Academy Oxford
Thu October 28 2021 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena
Sat October 30 2021 - BRIGHTON Centre
Tue November 02 2021 - NOTTINGHAM Motorpoint Arena
Fri November 05 2021 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Sat November 06 2021 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Mon November 08 2021 - MANCHESTER O2 Victoria Warehouse
Tue November 09 2021 - MANCHESTER O2 Victoria Warehouse
Fri November 12 2021 - LONDON Alexandra Palace
Sat November 13 2021 - LONDON Alexandra Palace

Compare & Buy London Grammar Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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