Holobody – Riverhood

Brother and sister duo Holobody emerge with a fuzzy, filmy, glittery patch of indie pop with Riverhood, their debut record.

Felix Green and Sea Oleena are from Saskatchewan, Prince Albert to be exact, and they’ve certainly got that whole indie pop sensibility down. Riverhood is inundated with just about every cliché of the genre and it sometimes implodes due to its own pretentiousness. The songs frequently drown in hunks of effects and accompanying noises, so it can be very hard to dig at the heart and soul beneath the sound.

Under the effects and overproduced noise is an album that takes its cues from folk, gospel, pop, and even hip hop. Green and Oleena (really the Loseth siblings) match up harmonies nicely and certainly seem to know the fundamentals of songcraft, but a lighter touch might have benefitted things to a greater degree.

Riverhood opens with “Unfold,” a lovely set of harmonies that settles in gorgeously. The arrangement has a nice a capella vibe before piano plugs its way in and signals the end of the song’s organic nature. It isn’t long before Holobody feels the need to flood the piece with effects, from surrounding synth waterfalls to buried vocal filters. It becomes kind of a mess when it’s through, but it’s a nice enough mess.

“Hurricane Season” picks up where “Unfold” leaves off and lets Sea Oleena “rap” over (or under?) a sea of effects, half-beats, echoes, and noise. It can be damn near impossible to discern her lyrics and the layered vocal effects become tiring in a hurry.

The approach sadly entombs most of what could be a pretty decent record, condemning cheesy-in-a-good-way tracks like “Way the World Goes Round” in an ocean of affectation.

It’s only when “Down to the River to Pray” locks in that one gets a sense of what Holobody can really do when they leave well enough alone. The desire to gorge has been parked in favour of a beautifully sparse arrangement, glorious harmonizing and minimal effects – for a while, at least. Praise the Lord!

Riverhood is the sort of record that will pile up accolades on the countless music blogs, of course. It has just the right touch of pretentiousness to land such praise, but the embellishments simply feel gratuitous and showy. Make no mistake about it, Sea Oleena and Felix Green are gifted. I just wish they didn’t have to hide it under so much “stuff.”


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