This Holy Holy article was written by Tim Burden, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Jake Willis
The hirsute duo of singer/songwriter Tim Carroll and multi-instrumentalist Oscar Dawson have enjoyed quite the rise since starting Holy Holy in 2011, having sold-out tours across their native Australia before they had even released a full-length album. However, ‘When The Storms Would Come’ has finally been finished and provides a strong, albeit at times inconsistent, debut.
The album opens with ‘Sentimental and Monday’, a sonically lush reflection on adulthood and the loneliness that it can bring. In the hands of a less talented songwriter, this track could easily have descended into faux-Morrissey pretentious wallowing, but Carroll underpins his observations about ‘faces changing in the photographs’ with a tangible sense of hope and excitement, crooning how “this darkness is nothing but a lack of light, darkness before the dawn arrives”. Airy synths, jangling guitar and myriad computerised blips weave around beneath and make this track one of the album’s high points. Other standout tracks include the Pink Floyd-tinged ‘The Crowd’ and hauntingly titled ‘Pretty Strays For Hopeless Lovers’, which gives the album its most powerful chorus with glorious shades of ‘Rumours’-era Fleetwood Mac. These songs share an ability to deal with melancholy themes without ever sounding morose. The pair of self confessed “music tragics” bring a level of maturity and perspective that too many similar bands eschew in favour of sensationalism and self-pity.
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Unfortunately however, the quality of these tracks is not sustained over the whole album, and several songs fall upsettingly short of their potential. ‘History’, for instance, contains some of Carroll’s finest lyrics (“All I want is to hold a little piece of history between my teeth, it’s cold and hard like mother’s grief”) but the song fails to hold interest, meandering along with too many guitars playing a lot of nothing much and petering out in a lacklustre fashion after four minutes. Also failing to stick the landing is the single ‘You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog’, two-thirds of which is a roaring, energetic piece of Springsteen-esque stadium rock but which ends with a self-indulgent two-minute guitar solo reminiscent of the worst excesses of 80s glam. The low point of the album comes immediately afterwards with ‘Wanderer’, where we find Carroll suffering an uncharacteristic bout of lyrical cloth-ears; the line ‘In the sunshine of your heart, you found me wandering’ is the worst offender, managing to be clichéd, boring and straight-up naff in equal measure.
Overall, ‘When The Storms Would Come’ provides Holy Holy’s signature emotionally charged indie-rock but without the consistency of their previous EPs. They are clearly influenced by classic acts like Dire Straits and Neil Young but with the instrumentation providing a distinctly modern sound, they never sound pastiche. A few self-indulgent tendencies need jettisoning and several songs suffer from a slap-dash ending but the album undoubtedly proves that at their best, Holy Holy are capable of crafting truly stunning music.
‘When The Storms Would Come’ is released on 30th October via Sony RED UK