Album Review: Holy Holy – Paint

Holy Holy, a duo hailing from Melbourne, Australia are about to release their sophomore album, “Paint” through Sony Records on 24 February 2017. This is a delightful pop album which seems to collide seventies harmony-laden vocals with an eighties synth pop mentality to create a very modern soundscape. Holy Holy are without doubt one of the most interesting bands coming out of Australia at the moment.

First song and third single, “That Message” is a carefully crafted mix of electronica and expressive guitar from Oscar Dawson that delivers a catchy melodic pop song. Singer Tim Carrol’s voice has an ethereal quality that floats above the layered music.

Second track, “Willow Tree” ups the ante – a crisp and melodic complex music track that supports an anthemic chorus. It is a confident and assured earworm that morphs from a fantastic and grand acapella ending into a dynamic and powerful instrumental that reminded me of 801 – that seventies supergroup with Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno.

“Elevator” is classic pop: a wall of sound and Carroll’s vocals soaring along the top of the instrumentation with harmonies that would do ELO and Supertramp proud:

My favourite song of the album is “Shadow” – a melancholic, aching slow-burn song with panoramic scope. Arpeggiated piano and guitars in many movements combine to form a beautiful soundscape beneath Carroll’s haunting vocals and a rumbling, insistent bass. This is an epic song that lifts the album, fading as it does into a prog rock finale. “Guilded Age” represents the scope of Holy Holy’s range – straightforward indie pop in the vein of The Verve expertly rendered with Dawson’s assured guitars to the fore. It is psych pop at its best.

Next track, “Darwinism”, was one of Holy Holy’s earlier singles and is classic romping indie rock that subverts conventional structures by its crashing solo and cathedral harmonies:

“Two Lovers” reminds me of the style of Phoenix – the picking guitars and synth stabs – transforming into a seventies guitar break. “Amateurs” launches us into The Strokes territory – louche vocals and a driving beat laden with a world weary cynicism – “love is for amateurs”.

The final songs on “Paint” clock in at over 5 minutes each. “December” has the epic canvass of fellow Australians Empires of the Sun. There is a certain shared brightness underpinned by a degree of melancholia and eccentricity. “Paint” ends with “Send My Regards”, a synth-centric song that recalls the eighties soundtrack of M83 but with a more muscular core. Carroll’s voice is as soaring as the music, containing the passion and delivery of Ian McCulloch at his best in Echo and the Bunnymen.

This is an album that displays elements of a wide range of influences, but does so in a way that creates its own unique style.

This creativity extends to the album cover and its launch – the cover is by Australian painter James Drinkwater and to celebrate the launch of the album, four local Australian artists selected by the band and Drinkwater (including Drinkwater himself), Ben Kenning, Chris Horder and Lottie Consalvo, will create four paintings inspired by four songs lifted from the album. The first edition of this series can be seen here in the video for “That Message”:

The album is available on 24 February 2017 from here.

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