Arthur Beatrice’s style is hard to pin down. Working Out, their debut was compared to The xx due to its intimate, minimalist style, but their focus on piano and classicist melodies is perhaps closer to James Blake and the moody work of Tindersticks. Following it up, Arthur Beatrice have chosen to dramatically pivot in a totally different direction, aiming for grandeur and maximalism with Keeping the Peace.
The album most obviously owes a debt to Florence & the Machine, and one could be forgiven for mistaking the opening track –Real Life – for one of her songs. The soaring chorus sees vocalist Ella Girardot pulling off the same held, vibrato notes that Welch regularly shows off. The London Contemporary Orchestra plays on Healing, which sounds intimate and romantic, and the strings recall those in Thomas Newman scores (Skyfall in particular). Since We Were Kids is a bit harder to define in terms of influences, although the vocal stylings of Welch show up again. The track is tense, with a strong drum part driving the energy, but it feels a bit let down my a bland piano melody at the centre of the song.
Whilst the “epic” moments on the album are a lot of fun, the seriousness of the whole thing becomes a little overbearing after a while. The pianos in particular, are recorded in such a way that they feel very weighty and bass-heavy, and tend to blur together. When electronic textures show up, it it a nice break from the sombre mood of the album (the jittering keyboards on closing track Brother are particularly fun), but it isn’t quite enough to sustain interest throughout the record.
Whilst Keeping the Peace shows an impressive ability for Arthur Beatrice to evolve, they haven’t quite mastered the sound on this record like they did on their debut. The band tries to keep the album as grand as possible, which is to its own detriment, as the best moments become less distinct. Whilst it’s an admirable effort from the band, Keeping the Peace just can’t maintain its energy throughout.