London Grammar – Californian Soil – Album Review

By Aron Debreceni / April 25, 2021

London Grammar released their latest LP Californian Soil on 16 April by Metal Dust & Ministry of Sound. This is the third studio album of the British band consisting Hannah Reid, Dan Rothman and Dominic ‘Dot’ Major. As its title also indicates, the focal point of the album is on the impacts of L.A. and California had on the band members, however, if we approach it from the perspective of metaphors, Californian Soil might connect the idea of glamour and fame that London Grammar has also experienced over the last four years since their music got recognised worldwide. 

Hannah Reid shared his thoughts of her experiences with fame and success at Billboard as well, stating that in lyrics on Californian Soil her experiences have been put in the foreground and she also spoke of the well-working chemistry between her and the other band members and the supportive attitude they showed her during the creating process of the record.

Sonic Identity
In terms of sound, there are several mentionable things that are in regards with the sonic identity of the LP. The major genre the record could primarily operate within is definitely pop, however, multiple songs of it contain significant amounts of string sections that were added to the instrumentation. This move adds another colour to it, making the record partly cinematic. Furthermore, the elements of RnB can be sensed too, in tracks like “Californian Soil”. Hannah Reid’s vocals dominate the record, the catchy poppy melodies make the tracks radio-friendly, although They still have a melancholic flavour as well that brings the influences of indie music into the picture as well. So, in terms of sound, there is a mixture of numerous musical genres that can be sensed on the LP.  Overall, this record got a bit more commercialised and contains fewer elements of indie-pop that was definitely one of the major influences of London Grammar, according to their previous releases.

by DrabikPany

Credit: DrabikPany

 

Instrumentation & Production
As it was previously stated, one can hear added string sections in songs like “Intro”, or “Lord It’s A Feeling” that makes the LP sound cinematic, moreover, electronic sounds also dominate the record, the used synth and guitar sounds of delays and reverb make it have the elements of dream pop as well. Furthermore, the drums sound should be mentioned as well, electronics had an impact on them too, plus sampling and drum programming can be sensed in songs like “How Does It Feel” and “Baby It’s You” which creates the radio-friendly poppy rhythmic pulse that makes the previously mentioned songs also viable to be considered dance music. The quality of the production speaks for itself, the record’s mix is well-balanced and shows the proficiency of producers Charlie Andrew, George FitzGerald and Steve Mac.

Lyrics
According to Reid’s previously shared thoughts in interviews regarding Californian Soil, there are several occurring topics in the lyrics including romance, dealing with fame, success and mental health and some lyrics even got an angry, feminist tone by Reid which is another evidence of Reid using her artistic voice to speak out of issues that have been interesting her in years. 

London Grammar by jus10h

Credit: jus10h

Californian Soil contains several lovely tunes of London Grammar although and shows the quality of Hannah Reid as a singer-songwriter. Though the LP also got quite a commercial tone and I personally miss the dominating indie vibe that their previous records had. It seems to me that the music industry and the commercial success impacted their artistic identity and I think more experimenting could have been done on this record. The programmed drums and catchy poppy melodies make the record less unique. Nonetheless, Reid’s vocals and meaningful lyrics definitely add artistic values to the record and make it a solid piece of work for London Grammar.

 

Album Rating: 3,9/5

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About the author

Aron Debreceni

Aron is a journalist and a student of Utrecht University (NL). He has been doing his own singer-songwriter project 'Aron D' since 2016. Besides music, he is open to write articles about politics, education, health, history and travel.

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