Home town: London.
The lineup: Hannah Reid, Dot Major and Dan Rothman.
The background: London Grammar's secretiveness and quietly dramatic rise as a blog buzz band flatter to deceive. They're one prim-toned female singer who sounds like someone very mainstream indeed from the 70s (not punk) whose voice is almost completely devoid of idiosyncrasies, plus two male musicians whose computer pitter-patter forms the politest electronica we've heard in a while. They're the xx you can take home to meet your parents and won't embarrass you by mumbling or enforcing painful silences over dinner because of something someone said a week before. They're being touted as the next big thing, but it's not some brave new omni-adventurous paradigm they're offering, it's an old one – think trip-hop, or what trip-hop did next: chillout – given a bit of 2013 spit and polish.
The three of them formed the band while at university together. Well blow us down with a particularly light feather. This is not the sound of three angry kids busting out of a council estate burning up to rail at great volume against life's iniquities. They do have a song called Wasting My Young Years but this is angst that has learned to express itself reasonably, with decorum. Their first track, Hey Now, came out last December and has had, to date, 370,000 plays on SoundCloud. There would appear to be an even bigger gap in the market for an xx-type band than there is for the xx themselves. And London Grammar tick enough boxes – just indie enough for Zane Lowe, just dancey enough for Annie Mac – that they're getting support from a variety of DJs.
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Their tracks are as song-like as they are showcases for gentle digital rhythms. Wasting My Young Years could be a Radio 2 staple – and we mean Radio 2 as it was, before it got colonised by 40-somethings with cool record collections. Hannah Reid has a folk voice really, even when it's warbling or being "soulful". The voice could easily thrive on its own in a variety of different contexts: on a talent show, on the gig circuit or on a major record company. For some, it's become one of those pieces of music that, like Chvrches' Lies, launches careers. For others it marks the arrival of "yet another fairly mysterious band fronted by a siren-voiced female, making slow-building, haunting pop music.". The title track of their debut EP, Metal & Dust, features backing so tasteful it cries out to be defaced, while the Unfinished Sympathy breakbeat further enhances the sense of early-90s deja vu. Hey Now is dub-lite dolour for dinner parties. By the fourth track, Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me?, you're thinking: "Probably, yes, if you insist on making the soundtrack to our affair that prissily decorous tribal pop."
The truth: They're a PG-rated xx.
Most likely to: Come at us with syntax.
Least likely to: Come at us with an axe.
Tuesday's new band: Oscar.
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