Given the fact that our beloved Pentahotel Prague is celebrating its tenth birthday this month, we thought it would be appropriate that for our Good Vibes review we go for something that‘s also celebrating a decade of existence. So, once we got our heads around the fact that somehow „10 years ago“ meant 2013, all that remained was to select an album. Given the sheer volume of quality releases back then, this proved to be no easy task. Don’t believe us? Simply take a look at this month’s Penta Sounds playlist. If that doesn’t already prove our point, then you can always take a look at this list - As you can see, lots of very high-quality options.
Now, if you know anything about Penta, you’ll know we’re big fans of big riffs, however this month we decided to go for something a little different, not really entirely outside our comfort zone, but a slightly different vibe, nonetheless. That’s exactly how we landed on the enchanting album that is “If You Wait” by London Grammar.
Already prior to this album being released, a huge buzz surrounded the London-based trio, largely thanks to them going viral with the first song they uploaded to the internet, “Hey Now”. However, the weight of expectation didn’t seem to cause too many problems, and their debut album is one that is still really enjoyable ten years on.
There are lots of labels that have been used to describe London Grammar and their music; indie pop, electronica, dream pop, trip-hop, and the list goes on. But it’s that last one that initially resonated with us. The aforementioned “Hey Now” is the first song on the album and immediately evokes thoughts of the band Portishead with its synth-driven intro, reverb-soaked drum hits, and atmospheric aura.
The opening track is a great example of many of the positive elements that make London Grammar so successful. A slow building and spacious arrangement sit behind the powerhouse vocals of singer Hannah Reid, whose passionate and haunting voice might just be what truly sets this band apart. The song grows and builds until the end where instead of exploding into something massive, the band exercise restraint to perfect effect.
There are enough similarities between London Grammar and the XX (also in this month’s Penta sounds!) to understand why there are numerous comparisons between the two bands, and whilst it’s true that they may both be working with a similar sort of formula, it does a disservice to both to suggest that each doesn’t have their own unique, interpretation of this style of music.
Speaking of Penta sounds, there are several options from “If You Wait” that could have made it into this month’s playlist, but as you probably know by now… we are nothing if not suckers for a great cover, therefore we had to go for London Grammar’s take on “Nightcall” – Originally by Kavinsky (and famously part of the Drive soundtrack). Whilst the original is a robotic and retro-futuristic synthpop number, in contrast, London Grammar’s version is piano-led and ethereal. It features their trademark slow build, but this time instead of restraint, the listener is rewarded with a powerful and rousing drumbeat for the last quarter of the song.
In conclusion, “If You Wait” is a striking debut album that was not only unsurprisingly successful at the time but also provided the platform for sustained success for the band whilst remaining popular in its own right. Its late-night, chilled-out vibes are well worth a revisit, especially on a walk back to a Pentahotel after a nighttime wander around the neighbourhood.
Still credits: “London Grammar - If You Wait” uploaded to YouTube by kaosalacupacup