Release Date: Feb 26, 2016
Record label: Beyond The Frequency
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
It’s often said that music is the product of its surroundings. As far as Glasgow’s Holy Esque are concerned, nothing’s truer. Reflecting both the stark brutalism of the city’s architecture and the imposing countryside of Lanarkshire itself, the band’s debut is a deft dichotomy of uncompromising walls of noise and sweeping sonic vistas. An album not just ambitious in its composition but thematically as well, ‘At Hope’s Ravine’ is both opulent and sparse; a contradiction manifest in the recurring motifs of fear, love, religion and escape.
They’ve kept us waiting, but it's been worth it. At Hope’s Ravine is an assured jolt of broad-canvas, nouveau-post-punk pristineness: part-Twilight Sad, part-Bunnymen, and more than a shade of Simple Minds (back when they were any cop). Yes, it’s a polished, muscular record, and its detractors may point to a tendency toward the anthemic on tracks such as Doll House and Tear, but such is the intensity of Pat Hynes’ mottled, high-register vocals – eerily reminiscent of JJ72’s Mark Greaney, but somehow more desperate, more real – any complaint feels moot.
It’s pretty damn obvious that Pat Hynes ain’t much of a singer. This is a good thing. For Hynes and his Glasgow cohorts in Holy Esque, having a strong sense of melody and a love for all things Jesus & Mary Chain simply doesn’t cut it these days, as college radio promo piles are filled to the brim with young upstart groups who wear their influences proudly on their sleeves but do little with them, instead pantomiming their beloved post-rock figureheads and hoping success will follow (it worked for them, didn’t it?).
??Spirituality flows from Holy Esque - from religious iconography and lyrical references, to Pat Hynes’ vocal delivery, like a man possessed by the spirit, almost speaking in tongues. Holy Esque are a band full of character that reflects Glasgow’s religious awareness. Here, on At Hope's Ravine, it's utilised and constructively repackaged to produce something that let’s you know exactly where this band have come from and how they make the very best use of an influence which has at times been as much a divisive subject, as a community binding one within their hometown.