Album Reviews

Låpsley – Long Way Home

(XL) UK release date: 4 March 2016

Låpsley - Long Way Home Kids today, eh? At an age when most 17 year olds spend their time taking unfortunate Snapchats and experimenting with all kinds of illicit substances, young Holly Lapsley Fletcher was sat in her Merseyside bedroom writing and recording songs with the help of a laptop and some startling vocal effect trickery. Two years later, such diligence has paid off with the release of her debut album, Long Way Home.

Låpsley (as she’s now known, with that Scandinavian-style ring added to the ‘a’ in her middle name) is a difficult artist to pigeonhole – at times, she seems to be aiming towards Adele‘s global success, while at others she’s more than happy to noodle around in a James Blake fashion. This restless nature is Long Way Home’s biggest draw, although the approach isn’t without its flaws.

There are times though when Låpsley’s talent almost takes your breath away – take her early single Station, which still sounds as heartbreakingly fragile and fresh as it did on its initial release in 2014. It’s a ghostly ballad filled with eerie sound effects, in which Låpsley manages to duet with herself: a version of herself with a much lower vocal pitch. It’s a stunning song, one which you could easily imagine Lana Del Rey writing if she wasn’t so concerned with red dresses and bad boyfriends and was more bothered with catching the last train back from Moorfields to Birkdale instead.

It’s these minimal moments of Long Way Home that work best: opening track Heartless is both glitchy and soulful with those vocal pitch shifts, which could come across as gimmicky if deployed incorrectly, sounding absolutely crucial to Låpsley’s sound. At times she comes close to Jessie Ware‘s euphoric pop-gospel sound, as on Hurt Me – as impressive as all the technical wizardry is, she never lets it get in the way of a good song. There’s some real heart on display here, for sure, especially on the atmospheric likes of Painter or the beautiful torch ballad Tell Me The Truth.

The most obviously commercial moment is Operator (He Doesn’t Call Me), a huge pop number that’s catchy enough to propel Låpsley into the big time. However, it’s interesting to note that the most accessible and uncomplicated number on the album is the one that seems the most generically poppy. By contrast, the most successful moments on the record are those where Låpsley’s imagination and experimental nature comes to the fore – Cliff, for example, is both mournful and contemplative, but at some points sounds like it’s about to turn into a lost Chicago House classic. It’s moments like this, where it seems like everything bar the kitchen sink is being thrown into a song, that sees Låpsley at her most impressive.

At 12 tracks though, it’s a bit too long, and the album seems to run out of steam a bit towards the end. That’s quite natural for a debut though, especially from an artist as seemingly brimming with ideas as Låpsley is. What’s really exciting is where she may go next – for, as the good points of Long Way Home prove, the sky could well prove to be the limit.

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Låpsley – Long Way Home