Published Mar 28, 2018If you close your eyes, you can picture the haze and the light show. On their third full-length, Austin's Holy Wave continue to surf on dreamy, psyched-out washes of sound: distorted guitars, synth washes, echoing vocals and a locked-in rhythm section to cut through the fog. Adult Fear makes a confident dive into a sea of sonic textures, exploring darker tones than 2016's warm Freaks of Nurture, even when the quartet don't quite ascend the same psychedelic highs.
Adult Fear's best tracks turn out to be its most focused: opener "Nation in Regress" lets an undersea synth line and choral samples enshroud its bleak, world-weary lyrics. "Dixie Cups" channels shoegaze in a sustained, euphoric swell. The title track is probably the most concise, pulling the album to a taut close on the strengths of an urgent drum pattern and synth line.
A few times, the fog threatens to overtake the band's resonance: the eight-minute "Habibi" shifts a few times as it goes along, but it seems more adrift than ambitious. "Crys" offers a list of reasons to do just that, but doesn't manage to heighten or compel beyond its core elements.
Still, think of the light show: there's plenty to bliss out on here and Holy Wave prove strongest when they focus on the emotional core of their songs as much as on the waves of sonic exploration. (The Reverberation Appreciation Society)