Holograms: Holograms (Captured Tracks)
Captured Tracks recording stars Holograms have been garnering a bit of attention for themselves of late, picking up quite a bit of national radio airplay for instance. Musically their sound is reminiscent of a lot of bands you’ll already know but, as Philip Neeson explains, on this occasion that’s no bad thing.
Brooklyn label Captured Tracks seem to specialise in rehashing 80s indie UK guitar bands for a whole new generation of cool indie kids. Don’t get me wrong, most of what they release is pretty decent stuff, from the melancholic beauty of Wild Nothing and Craft Spells (copious amounts of New Order, the Smiths, and a Sarah Records compilation so obviously digested), to DIIV and Soft Moon (Cabaret Voltaire, ’82 era goth).
Holograms are, unlike those already mentioned, not from the US, but Stockolm, Sweden in fact. I guess this kind of sets them apart a touch. They have also had their fair share of rock band hardships, including finding themselves stranded in France after their van was broken into and their cash stolen (I’m assuming they were on tour at the time).
Sound wise the record doesn’t really move away a great deal from something you might have heard on the John Peel show circa 1980; reminiscent of some long forgotten London post-punk band, possibly signed to early Rough Trade, possibly not. Some of what they do has an obvious early Cure thing going on too, right down to the boyish, semi-engaging vocal delivery (Monolith, Ashtray, for example). They also have a noticeably ska vibe about them, including suitably cheap keyboard riffs (Chasing My Mind, ABC City); and plenty of that always lovably engaging punk spirit.
Like I say, because it’s on Captured Tracks, it certainly has things going for it; all the boxes are ticked to an extent, while absolutely nothing new is brought to the table. What Holograms have in their favour though is an unashamed new wave / post-punk retro feel that, to use a well-worn phrase, does exactly what it says on the tin. Shake the tin up and pour out its contents and what you’re left with is a rather fine collection that stands up against many another record of similar ilk (of which there are indeed many). I guess the overall sound of Holograms is less arch and for-daytime-radio, more dark and with dirt under its nails. I don’t know about you, but give me the latter any-day.
An obvious criticism would be that it all plays out without changing its sound and mood very much, but this LP never pretends to be Radiohead; it’s just pleasant and enjoyable in its own way. Admittedly in homage to a certain time and place, but sometimes that’s good enough in itself, providing you don’t expect anything groundbreaking or progressive necessarily. All in then, Holograms is just about a winner.