Minimalistic electronica and sophisticated vocals combine for a polished debut from Låpsley.
Long Way Home is the debut album from Låpsley. It feels like it has been a long time in the making – particularly for those who have been listening to Holly Lapsley Fletcher since she released her Monday EP back in 2014 – but in no way does her debut fall short.
Following the release of the sophisticated ‘Love Is Blind’, I felt a certain anxiety that the excitement of previous release ‘Hurt Me’, with its vocal distortions and synth heavy reverberations, would be lost on the album in favour of a safer recluse into Adele inspired ballads. Thankfully, Long Way Home harnesses both. Låpsley constructs a careful balance between ballad and excitement here, marrying her sophisticated vocals with contemporary tingles for an album that tells the story of a long distance relationship. Just a heads up, the prospects of long distant relationships look a little bleak on this album- even if Låpsley’s velvety voice does transform despair into something quite beautiful.
Bringing with it inflections of the soft electronic coos of London Grammar, Long Way Home opens with ‘Heartless’. Låpsley’s unhurried vocals are layered over an exciting drumbeat, which serves as the perfect predecessor to previously released ‘Hurt Me’. ‘Hurt Me’ is among five tracks previously released by Låpsley, standing alongside ‘Falling Short’ on the album. It’s one of the more synth heavy tracks, with vocal distortions that add a split dimension whilst maintaining her omnipresent clarity of her voice and lyrics. The deep plunges at the chorus nod towards new track ‘Cliff’, which opens with gentle “oohs” and distant tinkles before developing a darker tone, with a depth created by booming drums that merge into gentle piano melodies as the track progresses.
‘Operator (He Doesn’t Call Me)’ is the most compositionally interesting track on the album. It’s strange and jazzy; fun and bouncy. It gives a totally different tone, initially jolting about midway through the album, but once the dust settles, the old school jazz inflections are well-suited to the slightly vintage feel of the singer’s vocals. It’s here that Låpsley explicitly states “long distance takes its toll”, which, as a some of us know, it generally does. 2015’s ‘Painter’ serves as a more understated follow-up to the previous track, shimmering with wind chimes and vocal distortions that prefigure the higher vocal range found on ‘Station’.
‘Love Is Blind’ and ‘Silverlake’ echo a sophisticated sound with sole focus on Låpsley’s vocals, which eternally evoke a tone older than her years. ‘Silverlake’ is a track crowded with repetition, as softly trodden lyrics are buried under the fast sung “the space that comes between us like the ivy in the house” as the tempo of the track is picked up and it plunges into the chorus. Amidst the repetition is a growing string sequence that brings an orchestral tone to the track, creating a dimension of something epic, but softly so.
‘Seven Months’ explicitly rounds up the end of the relationship that runs through the album as the singer acknowledges, “I felt some kind of shift / I know that we all drift.” It’s honest and personal, and something that people can relate to- however obvious an album ploy that might be.
Låpsley’s craft of minimalistic electronica that delves into the relatable breakdown of a relationship creates a raw and accessible honesty. Long Way Home is a polished debut, maintaining a continuity whilst avoiding monotony and, importantly, showcasing Låpsley’s statement vocals.
Love Is Blind is out now via XL Recordings.