NOW Album Review: låpsley

Låpsley, aka Holly Lapsley Fletcher, has been called a prodigy. Indeed, the 19-year-old Brit’s sophisticated voice, emotive songwriting and first-rate production skills belie her young age. Now, her XL debut album confirms that the early praise was warranted.

Comparisons to labelmate Adele have been plentiful. Both elevate the broken-heart ballad in soulful, range-spanning voices, though on standouts Falling Short and Silverlake, Låpsley’s voice is more reminiscent of Amy Winehouse’s weariness. 

However, her experimental soundscapes align best with James Blake, and she’s gifted at doing a lot with very little. Minimalist tracks Painter and Cliff (which is calling out for a dance remix) begin sparsely before morphing into rich layers. Heartless and Tell Me The Truth go to intriguing places when she distorts and downpitches her cotton-thick vocals for an androgynous effect.

She astutely avoids the obligatory peaks and valleys that many debuts haphazardly throw in to milk emotion, revelling in moody atmosphere. Even upbeat tracks Silverlake and the disco-tinged Operator (He Doesn’t Call Me) still only lift you to a groove-on-the-couch state. Yet the album avoids monotony.

The weakest tracks – the hackneyed anthem Love Is Blind, the dreary Hurt Me – are the most radio-friendly and interrupt the album’s flow. But that’s not a major drawback. In fact, for many new artists, either track would be a high-water mark.

Top track: Tell Me The Truth