by John Tindale
Two years ago Låpsley, aka Holly Låpsley Fletcher, released the Monday EP – a four song introduction to what was clearly a very promising career. After a major label scramble and bidding war, Låpsley eventually signed for indie record label XL. Though it operates to all intents and purposes as a major, XL is notably home to Adele, the biggest sensation the music industry has known in a decade, so it signifies that not only is the 19 year old intending to be successful, but also wants to do it the right way. Her debut record Long Way Home is ready and with it the official announcement that the eager young starlet is ready for the big time, after an unusually long period of gestation.
Opening with a sense of purpose, ‘Heartless’ serves as a perfect introduction for any new listeners: by combining the sounds of Jessie Ware and James Blake musically with a soulful vocal which hints at Laura Mvula, it is no wonder that it is the vocal which is pushed to prominence throughout the record. In 2015 Låpsley was nominated for the ‘BBC Sound of…’ award, a prestige given to the best up-and-comers who all have one similarity: a knack for crafting good pop tunes.
This is evidenced throughout; the excellent ‘Operator (He Doesn’t Call Me)’ is proof that the BBC were right to show faith in Fletcher and will no doubt become a regular on night-time Radio 1. With an immediate intro with hints of many artists (Adele, Clean Bandit and Aretha Franklin) while remaining completely unique, it is a truly excellent track. Fletcher’s pop sensibility is a constant during Long Way Home. Even in tracks such as ‘Falling Short’ (a slow paced piano ballad), there is an air of calmness as the clicks and piano are built upon by jazz styled drums and electronics to create a wonderful post-dubstep offering.
But there are times where Fletcher aims too high and misses; immediately following this track is ‘Cliff’ which although features another seamless vocal performance, the tribal-like drums do not work at creating a sparse atmosphere – you can see what was trying to be achieved and on following efforts these ventures may prove fruitful, but for now it misses the mark, Fletcher’s desolation becoming lost in a howling void. Still, there remains enough to get people excited; ‘Leap’ is a minimal electronic track done in the vain of Shura that puts the listener in a trancelike state, before the triumphant curveball closer ‘Seven Months’ as Fletcher’s vocal range is put to the test (it passes, as you’d expect), the percussion works well with the vocal and keys to close a good debut record on a high.
Long Way Home has more than lived up to two long years of hype and what’s better is that you feel there is more to come. There are enough positive signs during the 46 minutes of this record to suggest that Låpsley is a strong-minded artist with an effortless grasp on what it takes to release good pop music. Ambition exceeds reach on occasion, but on the whole this is a very well-rounded effort that deserves its status as being one of the better debut albums of the year so far. (7/10)
Listen to Long Way Home here, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Holly Lapsley Fletcher, John Tindale, Lapsley, Long Way Home, review, XL
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