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The Holloways - No Smoke, No Mirrors

The Holloways, No Smoke, No Mirrors

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

NO Smoke, No Mirrors is, by The Holloways own admission, the product of a love for making stripped down, joyously crafted pop songs. It’s an effortlessly feelgood record.

A quintessentially British band, The Holloways have emerged from a battle with their former US record label to deliver an insanely catchy sophomore LP that builds on the appeal of past songs such as Two Left Feet and Dancefloor.

The guitars are crisp, indie-pop based and reminiscent of the best Brit bands (such as Blur), while the vocals are smoothly delivered and full of insightful, playful lyrics.

As a result, the album delivers one highlight after another… all more infectious than the last. Try listening to a song like Cool Down on a hot summer’s day without getting the type of joyful headrush that accompanies an ice-cold bottled Coke on an intolerably hot occasion.

Or the weekend party anthem that’s destined to become Alcohol – an ode to the pleasures and perils of a Saturday night excess that’s, well, the equivalent of emerging from a hangover slumber after popping some neurofen!

Both songs are brimming with an energy and positivity that’s impossible not to become swept along with. Likewise, Under A Cloud, an optimistic observational tale that serves as a rallying call to everyone to escape their day to day boredom and celebrate life. It almost has a calypso vibe woven into its indie-pop guitar hooks.

Jukebox Sunshine, meanwhile, is all shimmering sunshine beats and percussion, with a “whoa whoa” opening salvo and a relentlessly sparkling demeanour. And yet there are serious elements to many of the lyrics.

And just in case you’re thinking that all of the songs conform to the same upbeat formula (and might therefore strain goodwill in a Feeling kind of way), they drop in the odd slow-burner such as Knock Me Down, which is genuinely tender and stripped back to a string and acoustic backing. It’s disarmingly affecting and a brilliant way to end the album.

Elsewhere, the banjo-infused Public Service Broadcast is another cheeky gem about a lost TV controller that also contains some pointed shots about the UK’s political scene. It’s another highlight and we could go on… suffice to say that No Smoke, No Mirrors is the sound of a band having the time of their lives, who aren’t afraid to transmit the good time vibe to their listeners.

It’s a ray of musical sunshine to guide you through the winter months – trust us!

Download picks: Public Service Broadcast, Jukebox Sunshine, Under A Cloud, Cool Down, Alcohol, Knock Me Down

Track listing:

  1. AAA
  2. Public Service Broadcast
  3. On The Bus
  4. Jukebox Sunshine
  5. Sinners n Winners
  6. Under A Cloud
  7. Cool Down
  8. Alcohol
  9. Listen
  10. Little Johnny Went to Parliament
  11. Knock Me Down