Batten down the hatches. Holy Holy tackle big sounds and wild weather on debut LP When The Storms Would Come. Brisbane singer-songwriter Timothy Carrol and Melbourne guitarist Oscar Dawson met while volunteering as English teachers in Southeast Asia. Their chance encounter would spawn Holy Holy: an on again, off again collaboration that, despite distance and time, has endured to produce a full-length debut. And thank god for that.
Holy Holy have bulked up their sound following 2014’s The Pacific EP. Tight guitar riffs and brooding instrumental swells drive a laid-back pace on the new record. In fact, a large portion of this album is spent within the calm before for the storm, waiting for the weather to hit. Tracks float languidly by, and Holy Holy pull off this anticlimax. Confidence in their sound seeps through songs, ensuring the success of downtempo moments. But that’s not to say the storm doesn’t come.
Single ‘Sentimental And Monday’ drifts along elastic riffs, flaunting Carrol’s velvet tone before reaching a guitar heavy finish. ‘Outside Of The Heart Of It’ is sparse and subtle, exposing Holy Holy’s stripped back sound. Producer Matt Redlich (Ball Park Music, Emma Louise, The Trouble With Templeton) fanned the flames of the duo’s traditional approach, allowing minimal – if any – post-production. The result is a natural, back-to-basics finish.
‘History’ follows suite. Carrol asks the big questions (“What are we? / If not bones and blood and teeth”) to a bigger bass line. Dropping to just vocals and guitar squeaks in the bridge, the track rebuilds for a shattering finish. ‘Holy Gin’ adopts a dirtier sound and tests digital flavors, while psychedelic synths colour feelings of leaving and lust on ‘Wanderer’. Album highlight ‘Pretty Strays For Hopeless Lovers’ unfurls with energy and enthusiasm. Electric riffs make way for a reverb-drenched guitar solo, which pushes the track well into the six-minute mark.
“You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog” summons the storm. A thudding bass adds weight, stripping the sound of oxygen. It’s one of the album’s darker moments, which Carrol describes as an “examination” of the one-sided nature of relationships. “… you can’t ask for someone to say ‘I love you’ – or you can’t say ‘I love you’ to someone and then expect them to say it back,” he said.
When The Storms Would Come doesn’t sound like a debut record. Holy Holy possess the self-assurance and cheek of a band with many more years under their belt. Their natural rock and roll approach mixes emotion with conviction and poise. The result is a slow burning sensation, kicking into gear in all the right places before simmering down to rest. It’s the thunder before the lightening – it’s a perfect storm.
When The Storms Would Come is out July 24 through Wonderlick and Sony Music Entertainment. Holy Holy will appear at Splendor in the Grass before heading out on a national tour in August.