An early interview with Bido Lito! back in 2014 saw Låpsley seemingly startled by the scale of the reaction to the haunting, pitch-shifted “Station”, as she retreated from the music industry scrum trying to coax a signature out of her to finish school and potentially study geography at uni.
Two years later, much has changed: she swerved all the cash-flapping majors to instead sign with XL, and her surprise at the reaction to "Station" has morphed into outright condemnation of music industry “bullshit” and the condescending portrayal of young people and female solo artists. Long Way Home, then, is evidence that she's found her voice in more ways than one; a voice that's chillingly honest and as distinctive as the lost fragments of club music that surround it.
At its heart Long Way Home outlines the agonising disintegration of a long distance relationship – one that is Låpsley’s own rather than a contrived imagining. That authenticity is easy to hear in the seething power of "Love Is Blind", which laments infidelity with such scale and bruised melody that inevitable comparisons to her more superstar-sized label mate seem almost justified. Smoky voiced and soulful Låpsley may be, but she’s also operating in a completely different dimension; one immeasurably more modern via the spectral 21st century production upon which her voice so often stretches out.
That said, Long Way Home’s closest reference point is probably Jessie Ware, whose productions also carry distant echoes of the dancefloor, but, again, Låpsley sounds too much like herself to withstand comparisons for long. You can’t see Ware going as far as a track like "Operator", which is steeped in the sort of irresistibly widescreen disco production that Todd Terje might knock out, whilst Låpsley becomes defiant and considers turning elsewhere in her partner’s absence. It’s partly this emotional and musical range that sets Long Way Home apart, and partly Låpsley’s ability to do so much with so little: album closer "Seven Months" is only the latest in a long line of her tracks to wring catharsis out of the empty space in her productions.
After those early days unwittingly winning over the music industry from her Merseyside HQ with sparse soundscapes, Låpsley decamped to XL’s studios at Ladbroke Grove to extend her musical palette with the help of in-house producer Rodaidh McDonald. Long Way Home is a vindication of all that time spent slowly learning her craft and doing almost everything herself. As a result, she has finally delivered what all those early tracks promised; a bedroom record conceived in the club that drags confessional pop music further into the future. Judging by her recent comments, you get the feeling that she'd demand it be judged on its own terms, but it's the least that such an emotionally invested record deserves: forget gender, age and media spin, just go and immerse yourself in her world of crumbling romance and understated hooks.