They’ve been compared to The xx among others, but that’s somewhat misguided, especially considering their music is decidedly un-nocturnal. ‘Working Out’ more closely resembles the early morning, albeit less groggy, with its shimmering washes of eloquent piano sweeps and sun-drenched guitar. Their sound borrows heavily from other like-minded indie acts, but Arthur Beatrice find a way to make it their own, mostly by virtue of being startlingly gorgeous. The only element that ever approaches a sleep-like quality is Ella Girardot’s stunning voice; which presents itself as a dreamy shadow drifting through the foreground of their radiant soundscape.
This slight juxtaposition between the vocals and the music works wonders, feeding a dynamic that’s the very picture of untouched beauty. The slumping glisten of the minimal R&B melodies ties together with both Orlando Leopard and Girardot’s vocals, making the austere lyrics all the more surprising. On the soaring ‘Grand Union’, the lyrics quickly take a dark turn. ‘Dead lungs, you’re becoming someone else’s tongue / Coughing up blood, skin coming off’, it’s distinctly bleak and adds a menacing grimace to the otherwise chillingly pretty atmospherics. But, the lyricism isn’t necessarily always dark, although it remains cryptic and subtly surreal throughout.
The true strength of ‘Working Out’, is how defined a debut album it is. All the elements combine to build a better whole, despite how disparate some of them are. The climbing yet ever-so-softly whispering synths, the impassioned vocals and luscious guitars - it’s nothing we haven’t heard before, but it’s delightfully packaged, making it feel unique in its own way. It’s clear statement of where Arthur Beatrice are at, and an exciting hint at where they’re headed.
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