Rock Company 2019
Traveling in a very straight line, cliché-conscious Hollanders serve up a slice of Americana – tasty yet somewhat dry.
It took this quintet seven lean years to refine their balance of cerebral and visceral and follow up on the ensemble’s debut EP with a full-length effort. Fortunately, the world is still in need of simple, tuneful truths that country has always been offering, so never mind the group’s locale when there’s a groove to roll and a vista to explore. Sure, coming with the territory, pain and pining are part and parcel of the genre, but reflective pieces such as “Meaning” give the album’s travelogue a sense of cathartic pursuit.
Not for nothing the bell-like chords of “To Ithaca” open the record up for a homecoming trip, where warm refrains and robust riffs offset an infectious rustic texture, before the upbeat title track introduces a pop edge to a nicely rocking dozen songs. It will take a relentless, if sweet, twin guitar weave holding “The Just” to completely engage one’s ear and let Ben Hermsen’s voice break out of a slightly generic mold. A chain linking “The Light” to “A Sound” and to “The Sight” – the cycle’s harmonic zenith – may suggest the presence of concept, although the overarching theme is difficult to find here, while the faux-orchestral flow of “Chide” seems to nail the artists’ creative anxiety. Further still, “Trapped” has paranoia attached to anthemic chant, and the quintet’s desire to embrace freedom can’t be more palpable.
“All the world is a stage and every other cliché,” state the players. Maybe next time, they’ll get rid of this ballast.