There can’t be many who’d have thought a band comprising of members of such underground punk and hardcore stalwarts as The Hope Conspiracy, American Nightmare and The Explosion would sound like this. On their debut The Wreckage, Holy Fever sound nothing like the sum of their parts, but it’s no lesser for this – it’s joyously buoyant, catchy as hell and has a fun factor through the roof.
Though technically classed as a punk band (the scratchy aesthetic and plug-in-and-play attitude make that hard to ignore), Holy Fever have a real knack for melding liberal amounts of indie and pop-rock into their sound. But even though there are both pop and punk influences, this isn’t a pop-punk album; Holy Fever manage to avoid reductive genre pigeonholing by nimbly skipping between styles without losing any accessibility. And accessibility is something that Holy Fever have in spades. Duress kicks off the album with its sharp, staccato riffs before its one-worded gang-shout of a chorus, while Someday juxtaposes its clean indie instrumentation with Todd Cooper’s gruff shouts before some wonderful interplay between him and co-vocalist Samantha Barbera with some subtly interwoven harmonica.
If it all sounds very at odds with each other, it’s because it is, but The Wreckage thrives on dissonance and makes it work. Elements that are completely separate are mixed to great effect, and while the majority of these are only subtle additions (such as the aforementioned harmonica on Someday, or the ’50s-flavoured rock ‘n’ roll piano that weaves its way through the back of Something’s Coming), they make The Wreckage a much more interesting and listenable album. It’s the vocals that really shine though; they don’t even attempt to blend together, but both vocalists have their own distinct style that shines throughout. Cooper’s broken glass vocal is the source of much of the album’s punch and volatility, while Barbera (also of indie-pop band Beginners) acts as a sweeter, lighter counterpart, buoying the likes of Find Your Fame above standard indie fare, but not quite to a punk level.
It’s a combination that shouldn’t work, but does to stunning effect, especially in the instances of interplay between the two. The jangly bounce of We Are The Wreckage is considerably less saccharine thanks to a grittier vocal performance, while the Gaslight Anthem-esque soul-punk of Separate The Night feels even more wistful, and the swirling, almost psychedelic closer Many Roads To Follow sees a slow-burning but no less impactful take on the sound thanks to the merging dual vocals.
The Wreckage really is an album built on the foundations of surprise. It’s a surprise how well such an eclectic and diverse album flows, as well as how such disparate elements fit together in such a cohesive manner. Above all though, it’s a surprise how consistently strong this album is the entire way through, and how it sounds like a truly brilliant band instead of the side-project that it is billed to be. And most surprising of all is how this album stands head and shoulders over pretty much everything else released so far this year.
For fans of: Brawlers, The Hives, The Breeders
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The Wreckage’ by Holy Fever is released on 8th April.