Holy Holy: When The Storms Would Come

Holy Holy have finally found a sound that they're comfortable with, but does everyone feel that way?

- Australian duo Holy Holy have been quietly making waves around the country after snagging some attention with two stellar EPs. Now, vocalist Timothy Carroll and multi-instrumentalist Oscar Dawson have returned with their debut album, When The Storms Would Come. The record has had a very drawn out creative process, with Holy Holy spending much of the past few years touring extensively with the aim of maturing their sound before committing it to a full-length release. The record is certainly all the better for this restraint, having a rushed or undercooked debut can make things difficult in the future, but here, there’s a real sense that the band are actually comfortable with where they have arrived musically.

As the band themselves frequently cite artists like Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, and contemporaries like Grizzly Bear and Band of Horses it’s easy enough to lump their sound in with that lot. Listening to the record, no one could deny the influential presence of these artists, but it’s also not quite time to be drawing actual parallels between them and Holy Holy. The great vocal harmonies, beats and various guitar solos on When The Storms Would Come are not to be dismissed, but they do lack that underlying complexity and spirit of the artists who inspire them.

Opener Sentimental Monday builds slowly, much like the actual start of a week, before finishing on a high of soaring vocals and rolling guitars, much like the tracks that are to follow. Undoubtedly the album’s single You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog is at the head of the pack. With a strong, commanding beat layered under ethereal vocal harmonies it’s the best moment of the record, perhaps owing to its textural complexity.

Most of the record’s missteps occur when things just a get a little too simple, A Heroine has a rather unoriginal melody with an inexplicably out-of-place fuzzy guitar solo dumped in the middle. More often than not, Holy Holy opt for the well-worn path of indie pop, and without the sense of adventure and experimentation, much of the middle of the record falls flat. Better moments include the dreamy psych-pop of Holy Gin or the gloriously bass dominated Wanderer. At other times the record merely drifts along, entirely pleasant to listen to, but rather unmemorable.

When The Storms Would Come has definitely benefited from the time Holy Holy took to refine and develop their sound. When the band is at their best their vocal harmonies, riffs and rhythmic arrangements absolutely demand attention. However just having a confident and comfortable sound isn’t quite enough to fill a record. Holy Holy missed the chance to take a few risks and experiment a little more and the end result is a handful of brilliant songs supported by a lot of musical interlude. There’s certainly enough divergent ideas on this record to get them over the line, but one can’t help but hope that the next time they’re a little braver on the cutting floor.

- Clare Armstrong.

Album Details

Album Title: When The Storms Would Come
Artist: Holy Holy
Record Label: (Sony)