By George Fenwick.
Returning after a four-year hiatus, London Grammar have a heavy amount of expectation weighing over them. The trio were propelled to worldwide success with their debut album If You Wait, which received critical acclaim for its hypnotic downtempo pop - though some critics noted it lacked variation.
Truth is a Beautiful Thing answers that criticism by going big. The album artwork brings band members Hannah Reid, Dan Rothman and Dot Major to the forefront in strong, polished profile, whereas If You Wait's cover shrouded the trio in colourful blurs.
It reads as an announcement of strength that matches the structure of the record; every track is inflated with a cinematic magnificence. Thundery percussion is matched with piano power chords and lush guitar riffs, while simple melodies explode into stadium-sized anthems on tracks like Hell to the Liars and Big Picture.
When it works, it really works. Oh Woman, Oh Man sits in the same Goldilocks zone as their breakout hit Strong - managing to be both upbeat and meditative in its tread, with an electrifying chorus that layers Reid's vocals with magnificent harmonies. Non Believer is another standout that nails its stomping house beat, turning a single lyric into a cutting ultimatum: "Maybe what we are and what we need/they're different things."
That said, in trying to broaden their horizons, Truth becomes repetitive in a different sense. Everyone Else and Leave the War With Me are not much more than forgettable pop songs on which the rich production acts only as an embellishment. They fail to make a lasting impression, and risk becoming indistinguishable from other weak tracks.
But Truth still packs a punch, and the album's grandeur means these songs are begging to be heard live. Reid's incredible vocals show a control that's nothing short of breathtaking, and when she's soaring over Rothman and Major's dreamy production, it truly is a beautiful thing.
London Grammar, Truth is a Beautiful Thing
Artist: London Grammar
Album: Truth is a Beautiful Thing
Label: Ministry of Sound Recordings
Verdict: Truth's opulence becomes repetitive, but ultimately packs a punch