And now back to our regularly scheduled presentation on Radio Friendly.
Welcome to After the Hype — a weekly series where I spend time listening to an album after the manic social media hype has died down. Some of these albums I’ll be listening to for the first time because the overabundance of shitty hype articles on Facebook left a sour taste in my mouth, even before the album was released. And that’s the problem with the hype train, often the built-up excitement can blind us of whether the album is any good or not; I’m looking at you, Arctic Monkeys AM. So it’s not strange for me to get to an album six months after it’s been released — I tend to listen to older albums anyway.
My first album I went to after the hype died down was Holy Holy’s Paint. I’ve been a fan of Holy Holy since their 2014 EPs, and loved their first album, so everything should have been on track for me to listen to Paint. Upon reflection, I didn’t really care for Darwinism, the first single off the album, and I was seeing Holy Holy plaguing my feed with tour updates, live performances and accolades. So I steered away, for a while. And what a mistake that was.
The album opens with That Message, a single that on first listen seems awfully simple. But after a few spins, the layering of instrumentation opens and my ears focused on little intricacies that Holy Holy have begun to perfect. For a band that initially sounded like two dudes — one who sung and one who’d shred — have grown into a well-oiled machine that encompasses thick instrumentation and solid lyricism. It’s obvious in That Message as the track builds, the lightly strummed guitar chords that flow through the song lay the foundation as deep synth notes descend in scale. It’s climax hits as vocalist Tim Carroll descends from falsetto, singing “let it go, let it go, let it go,” and guitarist Oscar Dawson flicks on the distortion and shreds a thick, fuzzy guitar solo.
Willow Tree is another song that showcases all band members, from the crisp snare hits of the drums, to the psychedelic synth chords that ebb and flow against Carroll’s vocals and Dawson’s guitar work. The track Elevator reinforces the formula that Holy Holy have perfected: smart instrumentation, catchy lyrics, a memorable chorus, and a solo that rivals some of the best in rock music.
The band steer away from their roots in Shadow and take on a more psychedelic vibe in the latter half of the song. Fuzzy bass notes and space-like guitar solos resemble that of early Tame Impala, and by proxy 70s psychedelia. I can almost hear Kevin Parker’s nasally falsetto cruising into the second half of Shadow. And that’s no knock, the track would fit perfectly on Innerspeaker.
Gilded Age once again showcases Dawson as one of the best guitarists in Australia, and Carroll as one of the best lyricists. The energy on the track is ferocious and I’d love to see this song live — I can even hear Carroll struggling to push the lyrics out. Darwinism is still my least favourite, but still a solid track that sits nicely amongst the rest of the album. Even if the intro and verses sound like Hungry Like the Wolf. December is an elegant song that sounds like a Shins track and Send My Regards is a triumphus ending that has a solo straight from an 80s arcade game.
Paint is Holy Holy’s greatest achievement. It’s a culmination of all their EPs and their debut album; it’s a sophomore album worthy of recognition. Paint showcases Holy Holy at the height of their craft, showcasing their ability to craft a memorable moment in each song on the album. I should never have doubted them.
Holy Holy’s paint was worth the hype.
This is Nick Devin in Brisbane, signing off.