Better Looking Records, 2012
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/08/2012
On their debut Reichenbach Falls, Ravens & Chimes put in a valiant effort, releasing a creative disc of emotive song craft and introspective indie rock. However, it was sadly lost in the shuffle of the legions of other New York bands plugging away at a similar sound. Now with their sophomore effort, Holiday Life, the band could easily separate themselves from the myriads of other outfits. Their male/female harmonies and thoughtful melodies sound sharper than ever, and their wispy, dreamy atmospheres instill a sense of hope via sadness in a very eloquent and sophisticated manner.
Though the music, heavy on the piano balladry, is largely soothing it’s not all blissful with the subject matter here. Tracks like “Past Lives” illustrate personal turmoil, while album closer “Carousel” is a break up song that will strike a chord with anyone who has been on the receiving end of a love gone awry. Despite frontman Asher Lack singing in a mostly sad demeanor, the instrumentation is often upbeat and colorful, with hooks buried deep for the listener to seek out. Despite most of the lyrics detailing stories of disappointment, there is often optimism embedded within, even if only the tiniest amount.
For a disc that barely came to fruition due to the band’s many internal struggles during its making, Holiday Life it sounds incredible cohesive and confident. It is the sort of album that needs to be listened to in its entirety to be fully absorbed. The songs flow in and out of one another seamlessly, having the most impact taken as a whole rather than a single song. Like all great indie rock bands, you’ll find parallels to the greats, in this case Arcade Fire’s moody anthems and the Bright Eyes style introspection. They even reference the legendary Built To Spill (“You Must Keep It Like A Secret”). This is indie rock for the pensive listener – almost hinting at classical music at times, and apparently the band comes highly recommended by Leonard Cohen, too. Not too many bands can claim that on their resume.