As the story goes Låpsley is Holly Lapsley Fletcher, a classically trained multi-instrumentalist from Liverpool. By the age of 12 she was writing her owns songs; eventually she started producing her own music by way of her bedroom, and caught the attention of listeners on Soundcloud with her sparsely layered electronic sound and emotional songwriting. In 2014 her first EP, Understudy, was recorded at XL Recording’s London studio where she joined the label’s good company of Adele, FKA Twigs, The xx and Radiohead (just to name a few). Not too shabby for a young lady just shy of 18 years at the time. To follow in the wake of Understudy she released two sophomore EP's with XL this year: Station and Hurt Me.
Låpsley has a voice that lasts longer than memory—sometimes soft and pleading, other times determinedly full of something well beyond her years. It’s music that urges to be listened to alone—a closed-bedroom intimacy where the heat of the sun waits just outside the door to go up in smoke. Shortly after discovering Understudy, I dug into the rest of her music and couldn’t help but conjure the image of Icarus who so loved the beauty of the sun that he flew too close for his waxen wings to bear. It’s the painted wings promised in Painter (Valentine), the cautionary tale of backwards glances in Burn, and the hope carried on tired backs in Falling Short: “You could say this is not too far to carry this.”
But unlike Icarus, it’s a not hubris that threatens to burn here, but a defiance against youthful sentiments and a coming of age that is transparent, brazen and buoyant. The sounds she conjures are creamy-smooth and modern (influencers in emotive electronic like James Blake and Jamie XX can certainly be heard), but the stories told are ones that humans have been telling for years: love, heartbreak, failure, learning to wear our own skin and the fate of the future. The maturity to face it now—and head on, no less—is some kind of fresh heartbreak; but if this is the kind of music she is making in her teens, I can’t wait to hear what the future will sound like.
Of all of the EP's released of this year, I’ve listened to Station the most. It begins with the imploring, haunting quality of Station, and the the state of desire required to just walk on no matter what awaits at the station, which can only imply leave-taking. Though it sounds like a duet, Holly produced the vocals and track alone, perhaps making the sentiment and duality here even more elegiac. The video for the second song on the EP, Painter (Valentine), directed by Harvey Pearson is not to be missed. It’s a love story told in fragments and beautifully drawn around a couple, a painting, and a book that’s missing some of its pages. Like any valentine, it’s a reminder that nothing is truly linear—certainly not time—and especially not love.