Rarely am I floored by an album that I've received to review, but let me get this out of the way right now: Holy Fiction's debut album, Hours From It is a stunning masterpiece of sound, and is already one of my favorite collection of songs from this year. The album has been on a constant rotation between my iPhone, computer and car, and it's one that I'm going to be listening to for months to come.
Holy Fiction's start seems to be like a lot of other bands: A pair of musicians started to collaborate in their spare time from work with their regular bands, and when their bands folded in 2008, this current lineup formed as more of a priority. The original lineup up Matt Geissler and Evan Lecker later expanded to include Jordan McCune, and later grew to six people with Asher Pudlo, Sally Wafik and Sam Lee. This diverse group of people came together, bringing their own voices and styles to the group to what it is now.
Hours From It opens with Iron Eyes, which has a summer-like, rich sound that just seems to hit the right notes with a sound that falls right into place for me. There's a certain vibe that I get from Vermont in the springtime, and for some inexplicable reason, this reminds me much of that feeling. The rest of the album gets better, with Exit, More Than Ever, Golden City Lights, Song 10 and Yes, They Were Here. Two Small Bodies and the title track, Hours From It serve as the album's weaker moments but even then, this hardly registers, and they're both easily stronger than a lot of other songs out there. As a whole, the album reaches near perfection for me.
The more tangible elements of the album are clear when you closely listen to this album. The lead vocals from Evan Lecker are set apart from other indie bands in that you don't really have to get used to his voice first before enjoying the music. The supporting players layer on the sound, with a great ambient sound from the keys, guitar and strings, while the drums and bass in particular deserve to be singled out, for their exemplary work over the course of the album. My biggest complaint is that this album is about four songs too short for this to be a full album: I'm left with wanting a lot more, and I desperately hope that the group will be working on new material soon.
While listening to the music and lyrics, I'm even more impressed with some of the wordplay and how the group worked the music and words together. In Exit, one line is: "Of undiscovered lungs/lay your hands down, breathe deeply", which is laid out smoothly and lyrically in a manner that works well, and is repeated later on in that same song - lines move from one to another effortlessly in the lead up to the launch of the chorus. This is something that's repeated often throughout the album. While I read through the lyrics from the songs, then listen to them, I'm amazed at how evocative they are - there is some great imagery here, with implied stories throughout, but just enough to prompt some ideas, leaving things open-ended throughout.
Listening over the album once again, it's clear that this is a remarkably consistent and interesting album that has just enough differences between songs to avoid the photocopier effect when it comes to lyrics, tone and the sound, but they're not so far apart from one another that there's disorganization and chaos from this. The end result is an absolutely stunning debut album from an unknown group, one that will hopefully put them on the map over the next couple of years. Mostly, though, I appreciate the fact that this album just feels right, soothing, interesting and exhilarating all at the same time. This is by far and wide the best album that I've listened to over the year thus far, and I have a feeling that there will have to be a lot of effort for others to impress me just as much as Hours From It has.
Listen to two tracks here: