Single Review: Arthur Beatrice – Who Returned

By on Monday, 23rd November 2015 at 12:00 pm

We here at TGTF first covered the elusive London quartet Arthur Beatrice ahead of their trip to America for SXSW 2014. Following a full review of their debut album ‘Working Out’ in February of that year, I attended their SXSW gig at the Harvest Records showcase, where I was more impressed with their live performance than I had been with their studio recording. I had expected that Arthur Beatrice’s cool, consciously artistic vibe would make a greater impact given the buzz surrounding them at the time, but since our Martin made quick mention of their subesquent Live at Leeds 2014 appearance…radio silence.

We haven’t heard so much as a peep from the group, who in any case were never the most attention-seeking of bands, in nearly 2 years. But out of the blue last week, they re-emerged onto the music scene with a very aptly titled new single ‘Who Returned’. The new song features a high-profile collaboration with the London Contemporary Orchestra, who have worked in the past with such artists as Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, and recent Grammy winner Beck. The minimalist video for ‘Who Returned’ was designed and co-directed by the band, in another collaboration with boutique video production company LiveFi.

‘Who Returned’ is characteristically subtle and sophisticated, and its video is suitably composed, with a stark, minimalist design focused on the band members and the musical elements of the song itself. The song starts off feeling distant and restrained, as lead singer Ella Girardot’s dance movements visually hold the viewer at arms’ length. Musically, it then builds through the lingering anticipation of the bridge to an outburst of passion, which is expressed both through the manifestation of anguish in Girardot’s movements and the heightened dynamic created by the addition of the orchestra under the repeated vocal lines “you can never be whole if you’ve never been broken / find no strength in myself, all I have is this emotion.”

Arthur Beatrice’s new single ‘Who Returned’ is available now via Open Assembly/Polydor. In addition to the new release, the band have also announced one live date for next year, a performance with the London Contemporary Orchestra Soloists on the 18th of February 2016, at the London Institute of Contemporary Arts.


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