With only a few releases under their belt, Sweden’s HOLY is already creating some jaw-dropping music. For his sophomore release, HOLY creates an entire psych-rock sound around his magical lyrics and melodies, making a record that never feels predictable. While the second half of the album is more demanding of listeners, it loosens up the predictable writing to keep the record constantly interesting.
There’s wondrous tumble of drums throughout “Night On Earth” as the guitars and synths paint a dense sonic portrait in the background. Through the piano hooks and vocal crooning, the song sounds like OK Computer era Radiohead with a psych-rock sound and mindset. “And she breaks the day! A clarity” lets the harmonies and percussion ring out like an outro the album’s explosive opening, letting all their effects fly relentlessly. Thanks to its rather brief stay on the record however, it’s samey feeling gives a sense of flow to the album while making it worth listens on its own.
“ððð” flows with cinematic rise of strings, giving a wondrous storybook quality to the album, while the guitars create a sense of tension that starts to rise in its cacophonous finale. Light and thematic, the song really sets up the more epic thrust the album moves to well. Glowing piano chords and fiery guitars cut open as “Premonition / ◯ / it shines through” goes from bright sounds to punchy bass. While the track does drag out its middle quite a bit, the burning release of its final fuzzy notes is utterly satisfying.
Heavy synth notes create a vintage hazy quality on “Dreaming Still?”, lifting you up before the drums and bass kick things forward. The light throttling of guitar effects keeps listeners on their toes, as the song’s dynamic range expands along with its sonic pallet. After absolutely dirty guitar work, “All these worlds are yours” opens into a sunny and cool piano drive that makes virtually nine minutes of chorus feel exciting. Treating the idea as more of a jam than a song that needs to change, it will either grow tedious or intriguing depending on the listener.
“Heard Her” finds HOLY time-warping their vocals and strings in light and subtle ways, making the whole song like a trip in the middle of a fairytale. The sense of place the band creates within their keyboard work opens up the song a lot, making the guitar riffs more welcoming and exciting than overdone. “ৌ Alien Life??” may sound like a hefty psych rock take on “Piano Man” but the sense of retro wonder that HOLY fits into every second of the song makes it all theirs. The song does stand as the most inspired on the album however, which may prove a dry listen for many listeners.
Riding the rhythm instead of melodies on “Wish ㍛” they find a wondrous middle-ground in their sound where the keyboards enhance the weight of each chorus rather than just giving it flavour. They also strip out a lot of the complex instrumentation on the track, making each synth and guitar feel that much more important to the overall song. With a David Bowie since of narrative, “In Lack Of Light” closes the album with a dark and beautifully scored story of survival.
Words by Owen Maxwell