Label: Ministry Of Sound
Released: 16th April 2021
In the four year interim since their last album, British indie-pop outfit London Grammar have retooled their approach to bring us ‘Californian Soil’, a new record that shows clear direction and a lyrical step toward an exploration of misogyny, the patriarchy and the band’s experiences with fame. With vocalist Hannah Reid taking the role of figurehead during its creation, this album is a huge leap in London Grammar’s lyrical discussion while still providing atmospheric blends of electronica and symphonic sounds.
Delving into the frustration of being a woman in an industry that is still so male-dominated, Reid is no holds barred in using her soft voice to tell hard truths. ‘Lord’ is not only a scathing rebuke on the way in which women are picked up and dropped in the entertainment and music industry, it also speaks a truth of the band’s own fears of lacking control while rising to stardom at such a young age. “I saw the way you made her feel like she should be somebody else” is just one example of these lyrics that cut straight to the core of fame’s effect on performers and audiences alike.
It’s profound lyricism and personal expression like this that elevates London Grammar above other pop staples and into a league of their own. Bookending the album with the title-track and ‘America’, the band chronicles their time touring in the states, contrasted with the death of the ideal America we see in the movies. Still, the songs are dying to be danced to, equal parts contagious and contemplative.
Whether it’s building sweeping, twisting sound spaces that swell, heaving with macrocosmic build-ups, or simply serenading us with a silken voice and a few well-placed synths, ‘Californian Soil’ is an unmissable foray in pop, rich in meaning and abundant in bangers.