UK four-piece Holiday Ghosts began molding their sound on their eponymous debut, but they’ve cemented it on the follow-up, West Bay Playroom. Named after their recording and rehearsal space, an actual playroom in guitarist’s Sam Stacpoole’s childhood home, the album has an appropriate feeling of playfulness and a loose-slung ease that feels less like a band nailing takes and more like a band simply enjoying themselves with luck keeping the tape rolling. Antithetical to many of their UK counterparts, the record is shaggy, loose and jangled in a way that’s more akin to Aussie exports, Athens indie-pop purveyors, and downstream Boston jangle-punks hung on Jonathan Richman now and forever.
The songwriting bounces nicely between Stacpoole and the equal charms of drummer Katja Rackin, but the band’s got a knack for sunny-sky harmonies that make every song feel like a family affair. They cycle through their jangles with an egalitarian ear – bouncing from the paisley popped blues of the ‘60s through Go-Betweens sleekness of the ‘80s. Yet they push beyond the sometimes high-buttoned affectations of the style, instead injecting a jocularity, humor and twang that feels like they have a few copies of Violent Femmes, Camper Van Beethoven, and Meat Puppets knocking around their personal collections as well. Ultimately, the record coheres into a fun rumble through racks that never feels cobbled together, but rather cherry picked with an eclectic love for bittersweet pop and four conduits built to pull it off without a hitch.
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