‘Switching from unassuming to power-driven musicality, it makes for a phenomenal track.’
Intro to Sophie and the Giants:
Built around a range musical and personal influences, Sheffield based Sophie and the Giants – featuring singer/songwriter/guitarist Sophie Scott, bassist Bailey Stapledon, guitarist Toby Holmes and drummer Chris Hill – are on a mission to rise above the crowd. Releasing their incredible debut ‘Monsters’ in 2018 as well as their debut EP ‘Adolecence’ a few months later, it was clear that that mission was on the way to becoming reality. However, with their 2019 getting off to an even brighter start via ‘The Light’ as well as a confirmed billing for Reading and Leeds 2019, it could well be that the best version of this reality arrives sooner than they expected.
Beginning in a way that sits perfectly between mainstream and atmospheric, the opening of ‘The Light’ feels as enticing as can be. Blending hummed melodic content and chord based accompaniment, it’s a relatively unassuming sound but seamlessly shifting into the initial verse – and hearing Sophie deliver the opening lyrics of ‘You got me breathless, but I’m still breathing’ – you get some hint of what is it come. However, with the sound resembling one that could be termed as London Grammar meets Florence and the Machine, we don’t really know where it will end up.
With the harmonic backing from the opening continuing, further accompanying elements begin to emerge and combining as one, a real sense of anticipation makes its way to the fore. In someways remaining unassuming, the harmonically centred counter-melodies and selective percussion brings delicate interest and demonstrates true musical restraint. Likewise, as we move into and through the pre-chorus, the beautifully atmospheric echoing guitar lines and selective vocal multi-tracking balances the relaxation of before with the power we about to experience.
Releasing the concealed energy until now, on arriving at the chorus, the atmosphere switches from restraint to power-driven. Bursting through from apparently nowhere it’s one hell of a shock. But wow is it one hell of a sound! Vocally transforming, the setting of Sophie’s lyricism soars off to take on a controlled, yet incredibly power-house form. Given the sheer quality of this, it would be enough on its own. However, with the surroundings featuring hectically rhythmical percussion and distorted guitar lines, it becomes truly phenomenal.
Giving us an opportunity to recover, moving into the following verse, the polyphonic nature of the chorus is pulled back allowing for an emphasis on musical pairings to emerge. Combining the existing piano motifs with dreamier guitar lines throughout this second verse, the change in atmosphere between the two sections is reinforced wonderfully. Likewise, and enhancing this even further, Sophie’s vocal returns to its softer side and paired with half-whispered inverted harmonics, lines such as ‘it’s you I’m missing’ become increasingly intriguing.
Reaching this point, and with the musicality bursting in a way equalled only by the sound of the chorus itself, its return following the preceding verse may make you think the track is heading to its finale. However, ensuring that they definitely give us enough, Sophie and the Giants sublimely blend the elements to this point in a way that results in musical perfection.
Ticking delicately in the background, the stick centred percussion – this time simplified – brings momentum while subtly radio-affected piano nods to the fuller production within the track. Indeed sparser in texture than what has just been, but not as much as the opening, it sets up a sound that really feels like the climax is on its way. And it most certainly is as with the increasing re-emergence of accented drums, and Sophie’s showcase vocals soaring to new heights, we get a finale that’s of appropriately gigantic proportions.