Holodrum – Holodrum
Vinyl / Download
Out February 25th 2022
Andy Brown dusts off his dancing shoes and heads down to the disco with the self-titled debut album by Holodrum. He shares his thoughts for Louder Than War.
There are plenty of reasons why the debut album by Holodrum may catch your attention. The seven-piece band are already deeply rooted in the Leeds music scene; their collective endeavours could easily fill a book or, perhaps more appropriately, a whole stack of zines. I’ll do my best to explain. You may know Jonathan Nash (drums) as the guitarist and vocalist with the ace, Devo-loving three-piece, Cowtown. Matthew Benn (synth/bass/ production) creates experimental electronica with Christopher Duffin (sax/synth) as Xam Duo. Nash, Benn and Sam Shjipstone (guitar/ vocals) all shared a stage as members of Hookworms while Duffin and Steve Nuttall (percussion) played alongside Nash in motorik trio, Nope. Vocalist Emily Garner sings in electronic duo Vide0 while Shjipstone currently divides his time between Holodrum and chart-bothering indie outfit, Yard Act. Interested? You should be.
If you’re coming to the album as a Yard Act fan then prepare yourself for a wholly different yet equally thrilling ride. While you can certainly trace elements of the band’s sound back to their other projects, they’re a million miles away from Yard Acts Fall-esque repertoire. The album shows what an incredibly versatile guitarist Sam Shjipstone is. Versatility is something of a keyword for every member of Holodrum. The band takes the percussive drive of Nope and the electronic elements they’ve explored in other projects and straps a disco-shaped rocket to its back. There’s a tangible sense of excitement as they meld minds to create half an hour of ecstatic, disco-infused electro-pop.
It’s about a minute into Lemon Chic that it hits you. The disco beat, the wailing sax and the distinctly funky bass all gel into an undeniably joyful groove. If you’re after some guitar-based indie to do a little navel-gazing to then this most certainly isn’t it. Imagine Tina Weymouth and James Murphy hitting the roller disco with a stack of new wave and disco records blaring over the PA and you’re halfway there. No Dither keeps the glitterball spinning with a sublime slice of synth-drenched electro-pop. Garner’s effortlessly cool vocal guides us through the increasingly euphoric disco wonderland. There’s a point about halfway through where the whole track erupts in a flurry of wild guitar and psychedelic merriment. It is, it has to be said, quite astounding.
The excellent Free Advice melds the gleeful funk of Tom Tom Club with the immersive experimentalism of Animal Collective. It may very well be my favourite track on the album; a head-nodding, foot-tapping shot of serotonin. “It’s not in your favour and it’s not in your nature” swoons Garner through the technicolour haze and squelchy beats, “you don’t have to take it”. The sounds are expertly layered, every single second packed with ideas and innovation. Most of all, the track is just immensely fun. The whole album creates an irresistible sense of catharsis and euphoria, each track urging you to leave your worries behind and surrender to the sound. It has to be said that Benn, who mixed the LP, sure knows how to make an album pop. The LP is bursting with moments of pure sonic elation. Listen through a pair of headphones and you’ll understand.
Stage Echo promises to provide “everything you want and everything you need”. Believe me, the moment where the drums kick in really does deliver. A mind-melting track that seems to pass in the blink of an eye. Low Light races through the night with an ever-building and thoroughly hypnotic slice of synth-pop. It’s the kind of groove that could just go on and on. I can’t wait to hear what Holodrum create when they play live. The album goes out on a high with the ludicrously funky, Clean. A goliath of sound, resplendent with eighties synth moves and new wave cool. The rhythmic interplay between Nash and Nuttall is, as always, mesmeric. With 6 tracks there really isn’t a moment wasted on the LP; a concise and beautifully constructed experience. Holodrum have created an album as fresh, lean and inspired as they come. Spectacular!
All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.