This Holy Esque article was written by Lucas Oakeley, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Ben Kendall.
Lead by the distinctly abrasive vocals of singer Pat Hynes, it may come as a surprise to many that ‘At Hope’s Ravine’ is only the first full-length album of the post-punk quartet, described by NME as “Glasgow’s most exciting and inventive new band”. Merging murky punk rhythms with delicate touches of pop mayhem, this is a mature album that goes full-steam ahead from the off-set – the album’s opener of ‘Prism’ showcasing the raw, anarchic vocals that give Holy Esque their distinct sound, whilst also setting up a deliciously dark and sombre tone.
The rest of the album certainly follows suit, with ‘Rose’ successfully balancing an adrenaline fuelled drum beat with gleeful guitar riffs, to keep the track amicably bobbing along to the next. Due to the uniquely discordant nature of the Glaswegian group’s sound, ‘At Hope’s Ravine’ could very easily revert to apathetic melodramatics; however, it is carefully crafted to pulls its punches before contact, in order to prevent itself from becoming too bogged down in its own doom and gloom.
Central track ‘Hexx’ epitomises the band’s success in this respect, combining a laid-back surfer vibe with honey drops of electro pop, to create a song that is simultaneously familiar and wholly idiosyncratic. ‘Hexx’ is a perfect introduction to the band’s brand of music and one which has a mass appeal to fans of all musical genres. Twin single ‘Silences’ has similar break out potential, as its poppy melody successfully binds all the multiple elements being used, whilst keeping the band’s punk integrity still intact.
Not every track is as anthemic unfortunately, with middling efforts ‘Covenant’ and ‘Strange’ being relatively enjoyable constructions, that are simply too generic and admittedly a little too paint-by-numbers to be truly enjoyable. Despite these momentary blips of quality, the eerie feel of ‘Doll House’ adds some much-needed lyrical depth to the album, with lyrics that speak of dreams in song that itself sounds very much like a dream teetering on the edge of a nightmare. ‘My Wilderness’ is also one of the most eccentric tracks on the record, containing stop-start keyboard flutters that conglomerates with a catchy chorus, incredibly reminiscent of Pink’s ‘Who Knew’. On paper this may sound awful, yet in audial reality it strangely comes together in rather brilliant fashion. Elements such as this truly prevent the album from becoming one-note.
‘At Hope’s Ravine’ ends with the titular track, allowing for a quiet moment of reflection at the album’s conclusion, where listeners are given the necessary time and space to mull over what they have heard and come to their own understanding of the band’s message. Overall this a successful debut and Holy Esque are cementing their place as a “band to watch out for” in 2016.
‘At Hope’s Ravine’ is out on the 26th February 2016 via Beyond The Frequency