Taking a cue from like-minded purveyors of moody, shape-shifting modern rock like Wild Beasts, the XX, and Alt-J, London four-piece Arthur Beatrice cast a seductive shadow on their major-label debut, the icy and elegant Working Out. Choosing the band's moniker by inverting head Golden Girl Bea Arthur's name aside, the quartet's 11-track inauguration is a brooding, largely quirk-less affair that sounds a bit like Beach House setting up shop on a bridge above the Thames. Vocal duties are split between the fantastically named, Morrissey-esque Orlando Leopard and the soulful Ella Girardot, the latter of whom imbues each syllable with a sort of restrained, wounded elegance that's both bewitching and melancholy, like Adele or Florence Welch at their least bombastic. Musically, the duo toe the line between urban sophisti-pop and crestfallen indie rock, and at their most effective ("Late," "Midland," "Grand Union"), they evoke the best works of the artists they sound most similar to, while managing to sow some of their own seeds within the existing architecture. One of the group's most subtle selling points are brothers Hamish (bass) and Elliott Barnes (drums), whose tasteful contributions to tracks like "Carter (Uncut)" and "Charity" are so immaculately rendered and refined they could be bottled and sold at top-shelf prices, and they help to reinforce the stateliness of Leopard and Girardot's vocals without usurping them in the process. Working Out is an apt title, as Arthur Beatrice sound a little bit like they're in the late stages of development, where momentum is sometimes mistaken for maturation, but there's little doubt that they have the tools and the talent to carve out their own niche if given the room to grow a bit further out of the very populated one they currently reside in.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger