Everyone has those albums they love to fall asleep to. Sure, it’s different for anyone; I’m sure people fall asleep listening to Slayer or Mike Jones, but for me it’s always been some sort of post-rock. I could tell you I’ve fallen asleep to “Have You Passed Through This Night?” hundreds of times without even slightly exaggerating. Well, In Holopaw’s Quit +/Or Fight! I just may have found a new favorite record to end my night with.
The subtle, dreamy qualities presented on the band’s sophomore effort take on a life all their own, albeit somewhat of a quiet, subdued life. There’s not much going on beneath the surface that will take you repeated listens to catch on to, and maybe that’s just part of its charm. That’s not to say the instrumentation doesn’t take its share of subtle twists and turns, but it’s just not anything that’s going to blow you away. For what it is, however, it’s done extremely well. The album opener “Losing Light” has a very jazzy, American Football feel to it, with the guitars almost twinkling below John Orth’s beautiful vocals. Mellow as it is, it’s still sure to grasp you and hold you there, to witness the attacks and variety of the instruments the album includes.
Under the layer of mellow guitar, you’ll find some interesting dynamics brewing: Vibraphone courtesy of the Mercury Program’s Tom Reno as well as a melting pot of string and woodwind instruments that while used in moderation, do nothing if not hit their aim. The whimsical “Curious” lets the deep sounding violin weave its way though the soundscape. Holopaw clearly works with a full and diverse sonic palate, never allowing any individual element to outstay its welcome. “Ghosties” begins with the low drone of a choir, beneath the slow and calculated pounding of the base drum, leaving room for Orth to come in when it will be most effective. The pounding of the drum continues throughout, with a chant of “All the little ghosties, dragging their faint tail in the snow” resonating through the background. The sublime, low-key qualities bring out the best the band has to offer.
Where Holopaw stutters is in the album’s overall length. It seems to end before ever really hitting what could be a formidable stride. Just as you’re happily running along, you come to a cliff. There’s nowhere else to step, no matter how much more you may want. It’s not the album sequencing that’s at fault, just the overall length of the songs. Only three songs crack that same amount of minutes, with only one over the four-minute mark, that being the fitting closer, “Shiver,” which is ushered out by some very subtle clean guitar plucking and a low drone.
Leaving behind their alt-country style, Holopaw more than impress with a very pleasant effort that’s sure to peacefully end many of my nights to come.