Academy Songs Volume 1
Storytelling is an integral part of a musician's work. Oftentimes, songwriters either don't pay enough attention to it or leave it as a secondary part of their music, or the opposite happens — they fixate too much on it, losing themselves in their words instead of melodies. It's a fine balance, and Holopaw's fourth album, Academy Songs Volume 1, finds John Orth falling into the latter category. Set in an all-boys prep school, Orth starts off with a very promising narrative, but soon loses the listener, and himself, in the world he's created. Lead single "Golden Sparklers" is a great example of an exciting build-up of explosive riffs and thundering drums, but the thrilling rhythms soon fade and the latter half of the album struggles for our attention, musically and thematically. Known for melding genres like country and punk into his own signature sound, it's also disappointing to hear an entire album devoted to generic indie pop that's been covered by so many before. Having proven on previous releases, and even on the first half of Academy Songs Volume 1, that he has the ability to weave gorgeously captivating stories and songs together, one can only hope that Volume 2 brings a much needed climax to this narrative.
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