Holiday Flyer I Hope

Having heard some preliminary praise, I had high expectations for this album. After all, the Darla family is well represented here, with members of Rocketship and the California Oranges joining in to create this latest release. Even Mark Robinson (Unrest, Flin Flon, etc.) contributes by doing the artwork. The brainchild of sibling duo Katie and John Conley, Holiday Flyer create nice boy-girl vocal harmonies over a bed of shiny guitar pop not terribly unlike latter-day Velocity Girl. Larry Crane, who has sat behind the desk for Pavement, the Go-Betweens and others, handles production here. All the pieces are there, but something seems to be holding this album back from being the seminal indie pop record it so clearly strives to be. The songs are good, and the hooks are present, but the Conley's vocals are a bit flat and the dry production doesn't carry the songs the way it should. Dissing vocal capabilities seems like a cheap shot, but the truth is to hit all the bases on a guitar pop record there needs to be a solid vocal presence to give the album an identity. Holiday Flyer's musical peers the Cherry Orchard or the Shermans, for example, have succeeded at this. Tracks like "Trains" and "Green Envy" do start to really get the feet tapping, but the ballads "Strange" and "Signals and Traffic Signs" lose momentum. Still, in this age of over-production in mainstream music, simpler, less polished releases like I Hope are a good sign that people are still trying to make meaningful music with good pop sensibilities. Although by no means an essential release, Holiday Flyer is definitely worth taking note of. (Darla)