Arthur Beatrice – Working Out

Working OutPatience is a virtue. London quartet Arthur Beatrice formed in 2010 and went on to feature in the NME and The Guardian in 2011, but it's taken three more years for their debut album to emerge.

The band decided to follow what is becoming somewhat of a well-trodden path in terms of album promotion - no promotion at all. After their mentions in the national music media, they retreated into their own studio and slowly put together what would become Working Out.  A lot of what they do seems meticulously planned, from ‘Arthur Beatrice’ reflecting the male/female vocals, to the name of the album, Working Out, seemingly a telling nod to the band honing, fine-tuning and discovering their own sound over those three to four years. That's certainly something that they've managed to do. While their brand of sleek, sophisticated pop recalls contemporaries such as The xx and Wild BeastsWorking Out is far from a rehash of old ideas.

Self-produced by the band, it's an album where each note seems poured over, each drum fill well-thought out and each lyric considered, torn apart and rewritten.  Although it may well have been planned to within an inch of its life, it somehow retains a sense of freedom and not once does it sound forced or mechanical. The minimalist guitar sounds of dreamy opener “Councillor” is the track most reminiscent of The xx, whilst the pained lyrics of “Late” and “Carter – Uncut” soon give way to uplifting choruses - a prevalent theme throughout.

“Midland” and “Charity” are the finest examples of what Arthur Beatrice are truly capable of. “Midland” begins with singer Ella Girardot's typically haunting vocals, before slowly building into a joyous chorus with Chic-esque guitars propelling the track into dance territory. The chorus is one of the finest of the year so far, a notion reinforced when Girardot's falsetto vocals strike in the second chorus. In an album full of contrasts and counterpoints, typically it is the male vocals of Orlando Leopard which then drive the similarly-euphoric “Charity”The tracks tend to follow a similar structure, with dark, brooding openings leading into up-tempo choruses before retreating into their shells once more. Despite the success the band have with this formula, the repetition is one of the album's very few drawbacks.

Working Out is an assured debut album and also a tantalising glimpse of what the future could hold for the band. Whilst a set of songs that are this precise can often come across as dull and impersonal, it's the impassioned vocal delivery and powerful lyrics that lift this from a good pop album to a great pop album. Continue in this vein, and Arthur Beatrice are surely destined for bigger and better things. Mind you, they've probably already planned that out.

Release: 24th February 2014, Atlantic


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