FatCat Records (label)
25 May 2021 (released)
25 May 2021
‘North Street Air’ is the third long-player from Cornwall duo Holiday Ghosts (Katja Rackin on sticks and skins and Sam Stacpoole on keys and strings). (Un)consciously deriving inspiration, influence and ingenuity from idiosyncratic ilk including proto-punk provocateurs The Fugs, lo-fidelity smallstars The Moldy Peaches, the cursory-rhymes of The Modern Lovers (the subtle synths of ‘Off Grid’) and Three Dog Night (‘Makin’ a fool’).
Closer to home shores there’s also a Kinksian skewed glance at the pitfalls and pratfalls of circumstance, existence and happenstance (particularly on ‘Bathing Suit’) and Billy Childish’s uniquely glamshackle roots of pre-Beatles global pervasion rock and roll.
However, despite these past prompts in my head, Holiday Ghosts are far from reduced to reproducing retro sounds nor are they simply reintroducing ersatz echoes it’s what ‘you’ bring to the table that counts.
Blending Spartan rudimentary (that takes supreme effort and skill, you know) jangle-rock and stroll with blithely muttered observations that vary from the wry, the spry to the ‘Oh, my’, it’s a deeply vivid shakedown on ‘modern’ living’.
The duo deftly survey the ad-blitz perception-colonising of the corporate behemoths, the spirit crushing grind of the ‘steady job’ and/or the gentrified erosion of creative havens (where the hearse of commerce ushers in the stench of death and drives the energies out). Throw in themes of inequality dictated by the backhanded paid-off polity (having to wash your shows in the sea) what could be a screeching, preaching polemic is instead a velvet hand in an iron glove. A caress with a steely glint. Twelve wails of the disrespected.
If you’re ever in the market for rented accommodation (to be fair, in this ailing nation of managed decline the odds are you are) then beware the morally corrupt slum-lord, the ‘filthy ... wealthy’ shadowy ‘Mr Herandi’. Broken fixtures, dripping mixtures, this is a finger-pointing diatribe at neglect and corner-cutting cost-ineffective upkeeps of living spaces.
The 90 second robust, cut ‘n thrust ‘Blood Orange’ is The Velvet Underground incarnate. The titular track reels off a drolly uttered litany of crass observations, inconvenience ‘stores’ and optic carbuncles: ‘Shopping malls … parking fines’. Elsewhere ‘3rd Street’ is pure psyche-folk and the closing ‘Wallpaper’ a Joe Meek meets The Fiery Furnaces heartfelt dreampop plea to some other. A fitting finale.
A bouquet of barbed ire and barely concealed rage infuses this album yet hope resides in its heart and humour.