Plumbiferous Media

Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness. – Holopaw

Nov 15th 2009
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Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness. - HolopawHolopaw
Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness.
Score: 55

Holopaw, a five-man indie band from Gainesville, was formed in 2001 as a duo between frontman John Orth and guitarist Jeff Hays. Following two albums on Subpop (a selftitled debut in 2003 and Quit +/or Fight in 2005), the band waited four years to release their third and newest album, Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness. Unfortunately, though Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness has certain commendable sections, namely lyrics and parts of the instrumentals, it has too many flaws to be an especially good album.

The instrumentals of Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness can be split quite clearly into two groups: sections and transitions. During transitions, the instruments follow the melody prescribed by the voice quite closely, adding their own twists and interpretations. The track shows clear direction, every piece comes together quite nicely, and everything simply works. However, during the sections, the predominant methods become unmoving repetition and general inanity. There’s nothing particularly bad, except maybe the overly distorted plodding of “Boys on Motorbikes,” but the overall dulling effect ends up overwhelming the tracks, and even the album as a whole. This, combined with a set of tracks that are often quite similar to one another, does not exactly improve the quality of the album.

John Orth’s vocals on Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness frankly don’t quite work. His tendency towards attempting a vibrato at the end of each line quickly degrades into something more like a well-practiced warble, which, over the course of the album, becomes quite annoying. Additionally, Orth’s tendency to stay within one closely defined vocal style at all times becomes onerous, especially given the lack in variation between the ten tracks of Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness. It can be said that the music is well-mixed, such that Orth’s vocals and the instrumentals sit on levels that would normally be quite complementary to each other – but in this case, perhaps it would be better if the instrumentals were a bit more prominent.

Lyrically, Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness is interesting if often confusing – when the lines aren’t made incomprehensible by Orth’s incessant whine. On “P-a-l-o-m-i-n-e,” Orth sings: “You see me standing at the creek / Through the glass a heaving silhouette / Shoulders dropped, tips caught / But I was only bleeding / How could you know that I was only bleeding?,” an example of the well-drawn imagery throughout the album. Orth occasionally manages to pull off meaningful tellings of the stories Holopaw is trying to tell (see “The Last Transmission (Honeybee)”), but in many cases doesn’t do the lyrics justice. In the end, though the lyrics are among the best parts of Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness, they’re handled in such a way as to make it almost certain that they’ll be under appreciated – and it’s a pity.

Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness is a rather mediocre album. It has its highs, general lyrical quality and certain aspects of instrumentals, and its lows, most notably the vocals. Additionally, the album is certainly not terribly daring. There’s very little that could be considered significantly unique, and Holopaw does not provide much diversity through Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness. For a band that has had four years to work on this album, it’s a fairly disappointing final product.

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