Holy Wave might just be the coolest thing to come out of Texas this year. Replete with glittering guitars and decadent reverb, the five-piece favour a hazy, lazy sound which has been alternately described as “psychedelic” and “trippy” (tellingly, their first LP, 2011’s Knife Hits, was named after their favourite method of smoking hashish). Latest release Freaks of Nurture sees the band layering honeyed vocals over warm, gentle guitars to achieve an effect that’s part Hendrix, part Tame Impala, and fully unique to the modern shoe gaze scene.
The overwhelming sound of the album is one of warm, droning guitars and summery production. Holy Wave are obviously gearing towards a lush, wall-of-sound quality which they achieve masterfully: the band’s shoe gaze influence is very obvious, from the hazy hammond on Sir Isaac Nukem to the thick guitars of California Took My Bobby Away, an opening riff which sounds like it could be straight off a My Bloody Valentine record. One of the major strengths of the album is its versatility – the laid-back charm of Western Playland inspires chilled-out vibes, while elsewhere the shuffling rhythms of Magic Landing or Our Pigs practically demand that the audience gets up to dance.
All in all, Holy Wave have put together a deliciously fuzzy psych-rock album, sitting somewhere between garage-psych and surf-rock and encompassing a whole lot of shimmering territory in between. Packed full of catchy riffs and lush, swirling reverb, the album is a groovy little triumph. It would be tempting to claim that Holy Wave is simply jumping on the current neo-psychedelia bandwagon, but in reality, they’re redefining the genre.