Working Out – Arthur Beatrice – Review

Mitch Cole

The love child of all seven dwarves, Bristol will always be home to me. With an unusual degree in Early Years Education, I'm keen to get my teeth into something new. Excited to write about anything and everything, I might even stimulate you with my emphatic opinions and disappointing vocabulary.

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Arthur Beatrice formed in 2010 and, after receiving interest and attention early on from The Guardian and NME , opted for a low key lifestyle, relying on blog buzz, social media and live shows to publicise their new releases and happenings. The quartet have quietly released music and videos over the past few years before finally announcing the arrival of their debut album, ‘Working Out’, due February 24th 2014.

Album opener ‘Councillor’ sets the tone for the rest of the album – a brooding, almost celestial, tale narrated by the sultry tones of Orlando Leopard, whilst Ella Girardot and brothers Elliot and Hamish Barnes’ voices merge to create a thick harmony that caresses the entire song. As ‘Late’ follows up, Ella’s beautiful whisper takes the lead and it becomes apparent that this band are just as focussed on incorporating individual talents as they are flaunting their immaculate chemistry. The two share lead vocals over the course of ‘Working Out’ and it comes as a refreshing break from the bombardment of docile, quaint voices which frequent this style of music.

The songs from ‘Working Out’ are deep and immersive, often bordering melancholic, and retain a sense of honesty. The lyrics, perhaps more style than substance, are oceans away from the shallow mumblings of a Top 40 banger but combined with their honed, baroque inspired sound, Arthur Beatrice have crafted these songs perfectly. It is often the simple combination of piano, bass guitar and drums that lead the songs on this LP however, the subtle background effects allow the band’s own production to shine and flourish.  The tracks rarely stray from their tried and tested formula but, whilst the album has the potential to feel like one forty minute meander into the non-nonsensical faceless abyss of UK indie music, the sparks of genius from songs such as ‘Grand Union’ and ‘Charity’ ensure the album stands out amidst the endless supply of half-hearted releases.

As the album winds down, Arthur Beatrice opt to end on a high note with album highlight ‘Ornament & Safeguard’, an entirely  encapsulating song that rounds off ‘Working Out’ perfectly. The duet resonates the album’s sentiment and, rather than fall flat with a tired filler track, the melodic energy of the song leaves a sweet after-taste. This album may not be ‘fun’ in a conventional sense but after the years that Arthur Beatrice spent perfecting every untouched corner of the record, it deserves all the acclaim and attention it will undoubtedly harness. Their vision is clear, their sound is interesting, certainly individual, and, whilst many see this genre as tired and monotonous, Arthur Beatrice boast a proud and confident effort. A wonderful debut from a courageous and passionate band.

Working Out’ is released through Polydor Records, February 24th in the UK.