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The opening of ‘Californian Soil’, London Grammar’s third album had me thinking two things – the vibe echoed that of Michael Fassbender’s ‘Macbeth’ in the eerie scene with the fog and the three witches. Alternatively, the scene in Harry Potter where Harry listens to the clue in the bath – very fantastical.
That’s basically the vibe of the whole album, just not as impressive. To me, all the songs sound very samey and melancholic and there are none that really stand out. The title song, Californian Soil, and its follow-up, Missing, both sound similar-ish, like many of the songs on this album. Although there is some rise and fall in the tempo of the collective group of songs, like other albums I have reviewed this year, it is not one I would sit down and dedicate a decent amount of time to solely listen to, more like one I would play in the background whilst I’m reading or making a cup of tea.
Where Lose Your head picks up the tempo a bit, the only moment I thought the album might pick up, Talking, placed towards the end of the album, is very repetitive and boring.
Although the vocals of lead singer, Hannah Reid, are still strong, they don’t glean the same impact as their first album, If You Wait, where audiences heard songs like Hey Now and Metal and Dust.
I expected more from an album entitled ‘Californian Soil’, something warmer and earthier – instead I got empty and cold.
Hannah Reid has commented saying Californian Soil is about her gaining possession of her life, in part after she almost quit the “sexist and exploitative” music industry in 2019. But the impact of the industry is not felt in the chords of the album, instead, the standard archetypes of the album feel stale and bland and the album ends as anti-climactically as it starts.