#Review: Hold Close – Time 🕐


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerHold Close are a Pop Punk band hailing from Springfield, Missouri in the USA. To date, they have had a couple of EP releases through Hopeless Records, across 2016 and 2017 but now, 2019 sees the release of their debut album, Time. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Hold Close - Time

We’re eased into the album with title track, ‘Time’ – an intro-style song, which starts off calm and rather understated, with a nice little gang vocal, riding on top of the acoustic guitar. It has quite a wholesome sound to the opening, with the lyrics, “You know time will always heal,” but by half way, bursts into a chaotic moment and a slightly heavier tone, giving us a sense of what’s to come…before calming back to the way it begins. It doesn’t last long before swiftly leading into ‘Hang Tight’, dramatically picking up the pace.

‘Hang Tight’ has an intense beat, you can’t help but get swept up in, especially as there’s a huge sense of ecstasy in the calmer moments. Near the end of the track, there’s a note that’s almost screamed before a moment of calm that comes back round as if the track is starting again – it’s marvellous.

The best tracks on the record have to be: ‘Breath’ – a beautiful track about losing someone. It’s so stunningly passionate and heartfelt that you hang on every word. The line, “Sometimes I pretend like you’re still here,” really gets me; ‘Tropical Depression’ is deeply engrossing track due to the vocal effects and the metaphor of a relationship being a-likened to a tropical depression is wonderfully poetic; ‘Here Again’ depicts a longing for someone you miss. Subtle synths swirl around powerful vocals in the chorus, which makes for a touching outpouring of emotion; lastly, ‘Separation’ makes for an epic close to the album – hauntingly beautiful guitar melodies in the chorus are met with great instrument pushes and gang vocals to really hit it home, dropping into a long, synth outro and subtle vocals.

Other tracks include: ‘Cast Me Away’ which makes for a slightly more traditional pop punk track, ‘Absent To Reality’ has a much darker tone than most on the record whilst ‘Cloud9’ has something similar about the synth sound and melody to Keane’s ‘She Has No Time’ – it’s the lyrics that mostly resonate with me; “Will I ever learn to dream again, Escape from all the things I fear and then, Find my path to seeing clear again, Make my way through what’s to come from this.”

The only real drawback about Time is that 3 of the 11 tracks are pretty short, acting as intros/interludes – sure they are haunting and give the listener a few seconds to pause, but it would have just been amazing if there were more tracks.

There’s a real maturity to this record that a lot of bands can only dream of – it’s not quite pop punk, it’s not quite alternative rock – it’s just damn good!

The occasional echo effects on the vocals, interspersed throughout the album, alongside the diverse song-writing and instrumentation, induce real moments and feelings of euphoria – it’s the kind of album you can just turn up loud and get completely lost in – engulfed by the melodies and production.

There’s a real maturity to this record that a lot of bands can only dream of – it’s not quite pop punk, it’s not quite alternative rock – it’s just damn good! The instrumentation is intricate and well-crafted, with deeply considered, honest and relatable lyrics that must have taken a lot of self-reflection.

There is a lot of emphasis placed on memories of love and people lost, right across the album and a very clear theme of time passing, reminiscing and some degree of healing coming from that. “Time will always heal” is very much a repeated phrase. A mantra.

Time is very much like the record of a pop punk band who have already had a lengthy career and matured, going on to create an album of well-considered, thought-provoking and sonically captivating music to push the boundaries of the genre…it’s just that Hold Close have achieved it early on in their career than others. The band have produced something wonderful with this album and I truly can’t wait to hear what they create next.

Rating

4-5


‘Time’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/time/1437338395


Time on Spotify

Tropical Depression (Official Music Video)

Breath (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Hold Close’s album, Time? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Alan Walker – Different World 🌍


   

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Alan Walker is a young, Norwegian DJ and record producer who burst onto the scene with his 2015 single, ‘Faded’ (featuring uncredited vocals by Iselin Solheim) – now platinum certified in over 10 countries and as of December 2018, the music video has received well over 2 billion views! Since then, he has had many successful singles which have received tons of attention online, through countless YouTube views and Spotify streams. Alan has also collaborated with and remixed music for likes of Noah Cyrus, Sia, Bruno Mars, Avicii, Coldplay, Miley Cyrus, Kygo, Charli XCX, Julia Michaels and more. Now, December 2018 sees the release of his debut album, Different World. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Alan Walker - Different World

Alan Walker‘s debut album makes an atmospheric opening with the haunting use of synths and wordless vocal melodies, building continuously, however, just as you think it’s reaching a crescendo that will surely lead into the first track…it goes quiet! Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for atmospheric album tracks that build into the next but the 3 tracks on the album (out of 15), that are intended to prelude something bigger, just drop off like this, leaving a lot to be desired in this respect – they should flow right into the next track, seamlessly!

Some of the best tracks on the record include: ‘I Don’t Wanna Go’ (featuring Julie Bergan) with its really interesting, low vocals throughout the verses before breaking out into a wonderfully powerful chorus yet it’s obviously very Alan Walker in style, with the almost bubbly synths. Then you’ve got ‘Lily’ (featuring K-391 & Emelie Hollow), an almost story-like track, with a rather dark undertone to it. The high-pitched vocals contrast incredibly with somewhat sinister-sounding electronic elements to the instruments.

‘Do It All For You’ (featuring Trevor Guthrie) begins with a haunting, nursery rhyme vibe to the instrumental; its warbling chime sounds and hip-hop-style beat bring something fresh to the ears. It isn’t an instantly or obviously catchy track yet it’s very well written and you quite easily find yourself singing it several hours later. ‘Sing Me to Sleep’ (also featuring uncredited vocals by Iselin Solheim) is a very powerful song containing shakingly beautiful vocals (somewhat like Ellie Goulding), accompanied by the haunting sounds of children playing throughout the start and verse. Meanwhile, the synths a like a blend of some well-know Chicane and Owl City instrumentals.

However, possibly the best, most commercial-sounding song on the album, is single, ‘All Falls Down’ (featuring Noah Cyrus, Digital Farm Animals & Juliander). It’s just catchy, fun and despite the slightly down-hearted subject matter, is strangely uplifting.

It’s actually an album that depicts a rarely heard, somewhat dark and edgy side of EDM and it’s brilliant!

Both ‘Lost Control’ (featuring Sorana) and ‘Lonely’ (featuring Steve Aoki, ISÁK & Omar Noir) have an urban/Indian edge to them, mashed up with a gritty, broken quality to the synth sounds. Whilst, ‘Darkside’ (featuring Au/Ra & Tomine Harket) sounds a lot like ‘I’d Do Anything’ from the musical, Oliver! in the chorus – it has sensational production with a lot of subtle flourishes underlying the main melodies and ‘Diamond Heart’ (featuring Sophia Somajo) makes good use of rain sounds to add to the atmosphere, topped off with a strong vocal like Dua Lipa meets Sia.

Unfortunately, ‘Alone’ is nothing more than a solid album track, that I am certain fans will love, but it’s not the most memorable track, by far, despite the typical Alan Walker-style synth breaks.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right not to mention ‘Faded’; the track that really launched the producer and songwriter into the limelight – as with a couple of my favourite debut albums released by fellow EDM producers this year, it’s a really touching way to end a debut album; bringing it all back round full-circle to where their career began. A great little touch!

It’s clear that Walker likes to use real sounds to enhance the soundscapes he creates, which really add to the ambience throughout the record – it might just be one of the saving graces of the record, making him stand out from so many other EDM producers.

All in all, it’s actually an album that depicts a rarely heard, somewhat dark and edgy side of EDM and it’s brilliant! As I’ve previously stated, if Sigala‘s album was the soundtrack to the party and Jonas Blue‘s was the soundtrack to the after party, then Alan Walker‘s debut album is the soundtrack to the gritty underground club after that!

Whilst I think there are several things lacking in this record, he has certainly spent a long time crafting a production-perfect debut with some interesting sounds or synth choices here and there that add just enough variety to delight your ears and make it stand out.

After the success of ‘Faded’ and the loyal online following he’s built up, I’m sure Alan Walker will have an illustrious career ahead within the genre…it’ll be interesting to see how he develops and grows from here.

Rating


‘Different World’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/different-world/1445140820


Different World on Spotify

Faded (Official Video)

All Falls Down featuring Noah Cyrus, Digital Farm Animals and Juliander (Official Video)

Darkside featuring Au/Ra and Tomine Harket (Official Video)

Diamond Heart featuring Sophia Somajo (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of Alan Walker’s debut album, Different World! What do you make of it? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or hit us up via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
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