(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Album Review: Arthur Beatrice – Working Out

By on Tuesday, 18th February 2014 at 12:00 pm

The moniker of elusive London quartet Arthur Beatrice was “formed from the notion of opposites coming together to complete perfect wholes,” according to the press release for their new album, ‘Working Out’, due for release next Monday. The bisexual band name seems singularly appropriate given the band’s juxtaposition of male and female lead vocals, alternated seamlessly between the velvety singing voices of Ella Girardot and Orlando Leopard. The instrumental sound is a cross between smooth jazz and electro dance with moments of uptempo rhythmic pacing provided by brothers Elliott and Hamish Barnes on drums and bass, respectively. Hamish Barnes’ pulsing bass is a major element of Arthur Beatrice’s sound, maintaining a constant groove throughout ‘Working Out’.

First single ‘Midland’, released back in mid-January, emphasizes the theme of opposition that runs through the album. It opens with the silky-soft murmur of Girardot’s low register, singing, “all I want is to be warm and home, and where I’m known”. She maintains her smooth vocal tone as the lyrics turn slightly more cynical in the second verse, “purge me now, cleanse my skull from all the things I’ve been told”. The faster dance pace of the music in the refrain is ironically set to the words, “I’ll never move, I’ll never move, I’ll always be so still”, and Girardot shows off some lovely high notes in the repeated section as the keyboards and guitars are layered over the bass groove. The sensual and increasingly physical video for ‘Midland’ is as dichotomous as the song itself.


‘Carter Uncut’ is the extended edition of the aptly named ‘Carter (Cut)’ from the ‘Carter’ EP, released in July 2013. The long version begins with a slow, almost clumsily discordant keyboard intro which transitions into a smoothly melodic ostinato as the pulsing, almost tribal percussion kicks in. Girardot’s voice oozes over the opening line, “I see the way we coincide and it’s nothing more than chance”. The lyrics become a little bit nonsensical, but they seem to hint at the end of a toxic relationship. Even as the music shifts to a quicker, more rhythmic dance beat and a deeper bass pulse, Girardot sings, “I’ll never roll away the weight of you, seems too much / I’ll never hate the way I wanted to, not enough”.

‘Grand Union’ was also released ahead of the album as a single in September 2013. Here, Orlando Leopard’s smooth voice starts off soft and sensual but becomes almost villainous over the lyrics of the chorus, “Dead lungs, you’re becoming someone else’s tongue, coughing up blood, skin coming off.” The ominous instrumental bridge contains some interesting, almost disorienting sound effects that remain grounded by the foundational bass line. For another interesting juxtaposition, listen to both the original version and the Open Assembly edit from the band’s Soundcloud page.

Self-produced by the band, ‘Working Out’ is surprisingly confident and purposeful despite its occasionally abstruse lyrics and overall lack of sonic variety. The fundamental bass lines bring a sense of structure to songs that are otherwise a bit amorphous, often lacking strong hooks or catchy refrains. The effect is viscerally and sonically appealing, but few moments on the album stands out as striking or particularly memorable. A vague sense of monotony, especially in the second half of the album, is exacerbated by song titles that don’t seem to connect to the lyrics in any discernable way. However, the strong dance beats and dramatically layered instrumental effects are likely to strike a chord with live audiences at the band’s upcoming performances. Arthur Beatrice will tour America in March, prior to their appearance at SXSW 2014. They are also scheduled to play The Great Escape in Brighton in May.


‘Working Out’, the debut album from Arthur Beatrice, is due for release on the 24th of February on OAR/Polydor Records.

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[…] If you’re in the mood for a more critical appraisal of their latest effort, you can read Carrie’s review of ‘Working Out’ here. […]

[…] Read Carrie’s full review of the band’s debut album ‘Working Out’, released just last month, here. […]

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