Holy Holy are an Australian staple by this point, an alternative rock juggernaut and perennial triple j favourite. Their upward trajectory is likely to continue with latest release Hello My Beautiful World, which sees the duo continuing to fine hone their brand of electronic-tinged indie rock. Unfortunately, as the production gets smoother, the vocals more auto-tuned and the presence of rock instruments more non-existent, the band is at risk of becoming white-washed.
The songwriting on this record is solid by Holy Holy’s standards, with one passable indie dance number after another. The largely four-on-the-floor grooves may or may not be machine-generated but they certainly sound it, and the boys favour synth washes and touches of violin and strings in order to set an epic mood. This defines the lead single How You Been, a pleasant enough bop with a cool clicking drumbeat, soaring synths and a solid building chorus.
Unfortunately, consistency breeds boredom across the rest of this album’s tracks. The band re-hashes the same plastic sound and “epic” building song structures, which makes them lose their bite. There’s only so many times that you can hear a cathartic electro-pop track. Therefore, both parts of The Aftergone are decent but they simply float by, distinguished only by the occasional female vocal.
The Spotify play counts give an indication of the album’s trajectory thereafter, with plays dropping as the album progresses. Ghosts lives up to its name and floats on by, and I.C.U. boasts a stronger chorus but is let down but its utterly banal lyrics (“I dream of you and you dream of me/ Out where the highway meets the sea,” etc). The sheer consistency of mediocrity is respectable though, with none of the songs rising above nor falling underneath this standard. As a result, a deep cut like Shoreditch with its more aggressive drumming and staccato funk guitar riffs is still listenable. So Tired also features some nice melodic moments with its interlocking, African-tinged harmonies.
The band does try to vary the songwriting a bit but most detours are not particularly welcome. Port Rd changes the tempo but is still a generic EDM track in sound and structure, and features a a very cheesy hip-hop chorus. This also applies to opener Believe Anything, with its white RnB falsetto and interminable Ed Sheeran influenced chorus. The worst is reserved for Hello My Beautiful World, which is a stab at post-rock by way of a heartfelt but very generic poem.
Overall, this album is too slickly made and generic to be offensive, but Holy Holy has stripped all traces of brawn from its sound and have successfully become Australia’s answer to Coldplay. Excellent café background fodder, but soon to be forgotten.