Halftime Leisure

Critical Voices: Låpsley, Understudy

January 13, 2015

There’s something fascinating about individuals who find what speaks to them—what they intend to devote their life’s time and energies to—at a young age. 18 year-old Holly Lapsley Fletcher, the wizard behind the curtain of Låpsley, lends her pipes and her youth to a growing group of fledgling talents in the music world.

The Liverpool songstress’ most recent project, a four-song capsule of an EP entitled Understudy, dropped January 5th. This debut capped off a whirlwind 2014. In the past year, Fletcher released two well-received EP’s (Station and Monday), performed at Glastonbury, and was signed by XL Recordings, the label behind the likes of Adele and Vampire Weekend.

Understudy, a brief but beautifully complex work, builds upon this successful run. Låpsley’s signature brand of ambient electronic music–a fairy-pop-synth reminiscent of artists like Grimes–remains consistent on this EP, but demonstrates compositional development. The musician’s newer tracks exhibit an expanded variety of tempo and mixing. The quartet of songs also features gorgeous reverberating vocals. It often sounds like Fletcher is accompanied by a male voice, but listeners shouldn’t be surprised by the lack of mention of a co-vocalist. Her approach is innovative and economical, which is perhaps necessitated by her still-under-the-radar status; Fletcher often tinkers with the pitch of her vocals to create seemingly male-female duets. In comments on her Soundcloud profile, Fletcher displays dry humor in curtly explaining her sonic modifications:

“dropped the pitch of vocals, no co-vocalist, ain’t nobody got tym fo dat”

If Fletcher’s online presence surrounding her recent EP isn’t exactly eloquent, the lyrics on songs like “Falling Short” certainly speak otherwise of her wordsmithing. She sings with uncanny sensitivity and emotional insight, producing lyrics like, “Come back to this world and take your heart to higher shelf…Because you took something away from yourself.” When backed by lullaby-esque melodies, these repeated words become transcendently meditative.

Fletcher may be young compared to most of her musical peers, a theme perhaps referenced by the title of her recent EP, but she is certainly not waiting in the wings. Understudy betrays a talent and musical dexterity beyond her years. The future no doubt holds big things for this rising artist.

Voice’s Choices: “Falling Short,” “Brownlow”

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