Friday, December 1, 2023
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Holiday Ghosts – Again and Again Review

Homely immediacies strike through for Holiday Ghosts on their latest record, Absolute Reality. Something about that guitar, how clean it sounds, how close it feels. Absolute Reality is planted right in the room. It does not feel as though it is coming from speakers usually connected to a vinyl player constantly running LCD Soundsystem studio sessions and 7” singles adapted to football chants. Holiday Ghosts have manoeuvred themselves through the door, clambered through a window or something, they are in the walls with this music. It sounds so crisp, so clear and so punctual, as though a live performance were right there, piercing the eardrums with a wonderful sense of place.

Joyous, colourful and with a playing style that matters, opening track Rocket hopes to shove one up people that need it. A call to arms in the face of all those moments that feel like a rocket, an explosion of feeling and charm. Favourite Freak follows up neatly, upbeat and with a heavy fixation on its summery guitar giving the Falmouth indie rockers a firm hand on the sands and beaches of 1960s America. Those charming guitar numbers round out the first three tracks, ending the pace and speed on Again and Again before shifting to the still bouncing, but with that soft and equally strong break on Limbo, the pace is picked up once more. Holiday Ghosts are masters of pacing, they know when to give themselves and listeners a break from the heavier playing, which stays firm and incredibly consistent throughout. 

They fall down the rabbit hole on Lose the Game after a roaringly strong turn on Vulture. Holiday Ghosts’ consistencies are nothing short of incredible. Guitar music at its core is a devil to get into, because the licks and riffs are often the same or not all that interesting. Absolute Reality stands out with Sam Stacpoole’s wonderful energy and ever-changing, well-mixed guitar interplay. Where these tracks are so reliant on their feel and their instrumentals, it is thoroughly reassuring to see how well Holiday Ghosts both set their own standard and follow it through with gorgeous results. Consistency like this makes for an easy-going listen, a joyous little pop of fun to break through some light and fun in the sun on a cloudy April morning. Shared vocal duties call out those tunes, offering another burst of change, meddling with consistency and pulling them off as though they are unphased by risk.

Fight or Flight engages that truly unique experience Holiday Ghosts have fashioned out. Their crucially well-mixed instrumentals underscore and overpower the lyrical intentions with real power. Neat structures, welcoming lyrics and an engrossing pace that keeps things bright, breezy and powerful. Holiday Ghosts have pushed out an essential, seasonal album that will no doubt belt out of speakers in those summer months when the cans are flowing and the need for good music grips the alcohol-dulled mind. Holiday Ghosts will sound frankly enlightened in that state, and even soberly, sat here on a dull and grim April morning, it sounds incredible. It is one to nail down now. Experience it now and keep it in mind for those months when the sun scorches the ground and the last thing anyone wants to do is move. Absolute Reality has more than a few tracks that will get people throwing themselves around, and rightly so. It is a wonderful, exhilarating album.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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