Holiday Shores - New Masses For Squaw Peak

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10-track second album, released 2011 on Half Machine

"Listening to Holiday Shores may leave you with a severe case of seasonal discordance, as the dark nights and grey days of September clash with the charming synths and feet-moving melodies that flesh out the album, but this sophomore effort for the band should see you embrace them like the summer months themselves.

Opener ‘Airglow’ oozes bright sunny atmosphere, with the woozy synths wafting over the delicate vocals of lead singer Nathan Pemberton, giving us a glimpse of the band’s slender resemblance to Metronomy, before morphing into a slow waltz and then a funky jam that show the impact that a recording with a full band -their debut was mainly Pemberton and guitarist Josh Martin - has had.

It would certainly be a tricky proposition to try and lump them into any one genre, with the speed and dexterity in which they hop between them. The synth surf-pop of ‘Airglow’ is replaced by the twinkling Motown grooves of stand-out track ‘We Couldn’t Be Together’, which blends the delicate keys with a shuffling, toe-tapping groove, while ‘Threepeat Got Old’’s pounding drums may seem at odds with the lithe melody, the finished product manages to make it work.

Stand-out track ‘Spells’ shimmers with a seductive glam shine, building from an energetic bassline before settling down with hand claps; if Marc Bolan had been raised on the California coast, it would be the sort of song he would write. They certainly manage to nail tone better than the prog-lite of ‘Mystic Pharaohs’, that suffers from being stuffed with duelling guitars, keys and drums that all sound as if they written for different songs.

However, it would be fair to say that the album does start to run out of the steam towards the end, with ‘Cord-Du-Rui’ guilty of being incredibly slight without the groove or invention that the band flaunt throughout the album. On top of that, ‘New Masses’ sounds like an intro to a really interesting song that somehow never got made. Fortunately, closer ‘Shadie Spun Gold’ ends the album on a high note, with its relaxed guitar line managing to hold its own amongst the waves of synths and impassioned vocals.

Despite the latter half of the album going slightly off the rails and almost suffering from cramming as many tricks into some songs as possible, ‘New Masses For Squaw Peaks’ taken as a whole is purely delightful, the sound of a band who have confidently moulded an album that demands to be listened to in one uninterrupted sitting. This sun-drenched surf pop gem is the perfect antidote to the browning leaves that September brings."

DIY Magazine (4 stars)