Holiday Party’s debut album is a technicoloured trip into the unknown
After over three years in the making, the debut, self-titled album from Brisbane’s HOLIDAY PARTY is here. Across eight masterfully crafted tracks, they deliver their own brand of what they refer to as “junkyard pop”, equally inspired by the likes of The Avalanches or Beach House or J Dilla as they are from their own lives. The brainchild of esteemed musicians in their own rights, Mel Tickle (of Little Scout) and Luke McDonald (John Steel Singers) with Peter Bernoth and Scott Bromiley, the wait for the release of Holiday Party the album has been proven absolutely worth it.
Described by the band as a detailed journey through the demise of a relationship (whether its romantic, platonic, or even a version of yourself), the record is unafraid to go far and wide in its production or lyricism, with the duo often delivering intelligent and detailed soundscapes with relatable yet intimate, personal songwriting. At times unpredictable, their sound is one that feels like a trip down the rabbit hole but with a tour guide along for the ride, carefully guiding you through the multifaceted and immersive experience. Interestingly, the band have gone one step further when it comes to the careful consideration of tracklisting, splitting the record up into side A and B, with an intermission of sorts in the middle to allow for some reflection. It’s elements like this that separate Holiday Party from the rest: they know exactly who and what they are, and every aspect of the band from their early video clips to their press photos and steady output of singles feeds into this identity.
From the kaleidoscope pop of opening song ‘Spending My Life’, into the devastating-but-euphoric ‘No One’, the record blooms into its own world entirely. Tickle‘s voice effortlessly floats above meticulously produced soundscapes, complete with swelling synths, thick beats and lush atmospherics that continue to shapeshift as the story continues to unfold. As the undeniable groove of ‘Something That’s Not Wasted’ kicks into gear and blends into the dance-focused epic that is the 7-minute ‘Let Down’, the band ups the ante, plunging further into their masterfully-crafted technicoloured trip before offering a slight reprieve with the halftime breather, ‘When I Think About Love’. Described by McDonald as being “built from rhythm-sparse fragments of the record,” ‘When I Think About Love’ is the sinister glue that holds both sides of the album together. “It serves as an anxiety-ridden stream of consciousness that pulls threads of the album together,” he said.
The heavenly spin out of ‘Dream State’ opens Side B, heralding in the second side to the story, before the band’s first ever single ‘I’m Still Here’ galumphs into view. Its mutant groove of a beat chugs along, grounding the cacophony of samples, cymbals and other intricacies, acting as a real “moment” in a record that is absolutely full of them anyway. ‘I’m Still Here’ sounds as fresh and exciting now, three years after its official release, as it did back in 2017. It was the band’s way of introducing themselves to the world, and now serves as a signpost for how far they’ve come. As the record comes to a close with the somber, reflective ‘Will You’, you’re gently placed back down to earth, breathing deeply after a truly wild ride but knowing it’s all going to be okay. It’s not easy to instill a sense of closure in a record like this, but you’re left with exactly that. When all is said and done, when you know its over and whatever you had has been burnt to the ground, what do you do next?
Introspection is often never easy, and taking a magnifying glass to your flaws or to someone else’s can be tough work. On Holiday Party, Holiday Party don’t shy away from this. Instead, they almost offer a step-by-step guide on navigating the end of a relationship and the start of another. However, instead of moving onto something or someone else new, you’re reminded that it’s important to first get your own house in order. From picking up on the first signs of something not working (Spending My Life), to knowing you’re stuck in a loop and you need to get out (Let Down), through to figuring out what the hell you’re meant to do next (Will You), this album is a hand extended as you get ready to take the first steps into the unknown. It’s also an intricate, ever-evolving, shapeshifting and dynamic record that has so many twists and turns throughout that it requires multiple listens just to fully unveil itself. With Holiday Party, Holiday Party arrive fully formed, unafraid and ready to leap into the beyond.
Holiday Party is out now. Buy/stream here.
Words by Emma Jones
Image by Mitch Fresta