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It might’ve been four years since London Grammar released their debut If You Wait, but their second offering sees the trio extending rather than reinventing their style. The sophomore album Truth Is A Beautiful Thing is another colossal epic of a record that intertwines cinematic-style orchestral scores with dreamy pop.
Over 11 tracks, we hear Hannah Reid (vocals), Dan Rothman (guitars) and Dot Major (drums and electronics) ponder life on the road and their relationships with a new perspective since we last heard from them.
Opening with debut single ‘Rooting For You’, frontwoman Reid’s signature sonorous vocals loom over distant piano and guitar. Released on New Year’s Eve, the angelic single was the perfect way to toast the trio’s second chapter. Not bad for a tune that was apparently written in the acoustic haven of her shower. Produced by Jon Hopkins (Brian Eno), follow-up single and second track ‘Big Picture’ is an unlikely coupling of melancholy and uplifting hope.
“Don’t say you ever loved me, don’t say you ever cared,” Reid laments. ‘Wild Eyed’ and’ Oh Woman Oh Man’ are pierced by Reid’s heavy coos and laden with rich but restrained guitar rhythms. Meanwhile, ‘Hell To The Liars’, like a few songs on the album, is inflated with heavenly strings and a 32-piece orchestra. ‘Everyone Else’ is another dreamy electro-pop gem that slowly builds into one of the catchier choruses on the record.
Next up, ‘Non Believer’ cuts through the previously sombre pace with a slapping bass beat and fuzzy production on Reid’s vocals that gives off some serious Imogen Heap vibes. But it’s the beautifully-titled ‘Bones of Ribbon’ that is laced with the ghostly layering of Reid’s vocals to create a spine-tingling anthem that could rival big hit ‘Strong’.
‘Who Am I’ opens with Rothman’s spritely arpeggio, but later strips back to a bare piano melody as Reid’s rapturous warble ponders the question. “I’m trying my best to fit in with the rest,” she sings. Reid co-wrote ‘Leave The War With Me’ with Greg Kurstin (the musical genius who has crafted pop hits with Sia and Adele), so, naturally, the result is a lyrically-lush masterpiece.
The album’s bookend and title track is a devastatingly beautiful piano ballad. Despite apparently only taking half an hour to create, it embodies all of the nuances, emotion and stunning vocals we’ve come to associate with the London locals.
If you treat yo’ self to the deluxe version, though, the album is far from over with another seven luscious tracks left to devour. Including the electronic minimalism on ‘Control’, raw demos of ‘Trials’ and ‘Rooting’ and a haunting cover of ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’, it’s a spellbinding body of work in itself.
Despite new inspirations and experiences, Truth Is A Beautiful Thing is a quintessential London Grammar record. The trio barely step out of their well-honed comfort zone for the second album, but the result is an incredibly polished and rich parade of the grandeur of sound they do best.