Columbia/Metal & Dust
It really feels like London Grammar’s third studio album, Californian Soil, has been a long time coming, and technically, it has been. Their previous album, Truth Is A Beautiful Thing, was released four years ago, and ever since then, fans of the indie-pop group have been wondering when they would be able to hear a new batch of songs from them.
They may only have three albums out as of now, but there’s a good reason for that. London Grammar likes to take their time to create their art. They don’t want to rush out an album that feels half-done. They want to ensure that whatever they come out with is meaningful, bold, and meditative yet explosive. Luckily, Californian Soil is exactly that kind of album.
Originally planned for release back in February of 2021 but then delayed for unknown reasons (but probably due to complications of the coronavirus pandemic), Californian Soil shows just how much London Grammar continues to evolve as a group thematically and musically. The album opens up with “Intro” which proves to be a haunting yet deeply moving opening track even if there aren’t any words to be found. It’s more or less a tone-setter, and it does a great job at telling us how this album is going to sound and what we will feel when listening to it.
This then transitions smoothly into the title track which is infused with a smooth drum beat backing, with lead singer Hannah Reid coming in to belt “I left my soul on Californian soil / And I left my pride with that woman by my side”. It’s a track that excellently explores themes of identity loss and lost hope.
And it’s not just that track that deals with these themes. Really, the whole album deals with them. One of the best examples of this is in the final track on the album, “America” with lyrics such as “But all of our time chasing America / Though she never had a home for me” and “All of our time chasing a dream / A dream that meant nothing to me”.
Listening to Californian Soil feels like going on a spiritual experience and a journey of self-discovery. The mesmerizing drums, soft piano and even sounds of birds chirping are all absolutely beautiful to listen to, but the strongest sound here are the words that are being sung by Reid. With vocals as raw and powerful as hers, and with tracks as meaningful and bold as the ones featured on this album, it’s no wonder why London Grammar is as beloved a group as they are.