Published on January 20th, 2013 | by greg0
Holopaw: Academy Songs, Volume I:: Review
Holopaw’s intricate fourth record Academy Songs, Vol. 1 is full of big ideas, some so large that they eventually begin to unravel. Academy Songs, Vol. 1 is a concept album set in an all boy’s preparatory school that follows songwriter’s John Orth’s somewhat fractured narrative about the hopes and dreams of an introverted student. While this theme has been tackled many times in rock and roll music, you can rest assured that Academy Songs, Vol. 1 is not Quadrophrenia unless there was a hidden subtext in Pete Townshend’s work where Jimmy Cooper pleaded to go to the discotheque.
The themes of yearning and desire that are presented on Academy Songs, Vol. 1 are offered in glances and are not direct enough to make a definitive statement. The music on the other hand, is wonderfully arranged and ebbs and flows appropriately and creates a cycle that perfectly encapsulates itself. Academy Songs, Vol. 1 builds from shorter pieces until the hushed “Diamonds” and recedes shortly thereafter with the quieted “Dirty Boots He Don’t.” Perhaps the strongest track amongst the lot is “Golden Sparklers” which apes the quiet intro of “Diamonds” and explodes with a bombastic drum solo as it reaches its crescendo. “Golden Years” almost appears out of nowhere and feels like it could be a Queen outtake and feels ill suited to precede the somewhat heavy handed closer “We Are The Virgin Snow.”
Academy Songs, Vol. 1 is an uneven listen because of the ongoing battle between the ham-fisted lyrics and the involved production. Kudos to you if you’re able to comprehend the storyline past the discotheque too.