Fresh off of the back of his previous band, FALLING WITH STYLE, vocalist Lucas Woodland helped form Holding Absence (Who are completed by guitarists Scott Carey and Chris Smitheram, bassist James Joseph and drummer Ashley Green) as a means of truly delving into his song writing capabilities. With an emphasis on love; its nuances and the roller-coaster of emotions that accompanies it, their initial singles garnered them much critical praise and the adoration of fans very early on. Momentum grew as they released their split EP with LOATHE and the acclaim kept coming, so in 2018, they began working on their debut full length album. Now, here in 2019 we find that album finally released after much anticipation, as the Cardiff quintet declare that this is…”Holding Absence”…
The album opens up with “Perish” and it’s a bleak start as we find ourselves confronting the heaviness of mental health and its effects on relationships…with over a minute of introductory resonance, it sets a sense of tranquility with its flowing soundscapes before the apropos breakdown, a nice instrumental metaphor for a fragile state of mind. This is mirrored by Lucas himself as he switches from lulling, morose clean vocals to a blistering onslaught of intense shouting amidst a barrage of riffs, and its solid slab of alternative post-hardcore. “Your Love (Has Ruined My Life)” continues with the theme of seemingly depressing song-titles as it also seemingly repeats a similar formula; a soothing intro segment, albeit drastically cut, leading into a wall of noise that transitions into more clean vocals, before a soaring chorus. It’s lyrically where the song stands out as Lucas digs deep into his own level of self-awareness, with an acceptance of his own emotional state; he is an impassioned performer, credit where credit is due.
Speaking of depressing there are a couple of tracks that should come with a repeat prescription for Citalopram in all honesty; “Marigold” is a sombre piano ballad that’s as cold as it is cathartic…and however sweet the admittedly emotional performance is, with its numerous floral references there’s very little blossoming here…which can be similarly said of closing track “Wilt” (Plant related segue for the win). The longest track that’s presented, at near seven minutes, it speaks of the helplessness of watching a love wither away…a heart wrenching story of appreciating the love for its original beauty, like a bouquet of flowers, but those flowers will eventually die and there’s nothing you can do about it. Completing the hat-trick of heavy-heartedness would then be “A Godsend” which again, with its morose tone and low-fi, shoegaze inspired delivery leaves the listener almost despondent.
It isn’t ALL doom and gloom however, this isn’t a MORRISSEY record for fuck sake, and that’s reinforced by album highlight “Like A Shadow”. A sharp dose of angst-ridden, punk-inspired post-rock…it’s got a great rhythm and an infectious chorus hook full of pop aesthetics that you simply can’t help but move to, this is incredibly enjoyable stuff this. “To Fall Asleep” too, despite its heavy message of wanting support through life’s darkest periods is a wonderfully up-beat dose of melodic alt. rock, likewise with “Monochrome” which would easily appeal to fans of artists such as TAKING BACK SUNDAY for example. Ultimately as one of the UK’s hottest rising prospects, they’re showing plenty of promise for big things to come. This may only be their debut and it hasn’t been out long, but their fan base is a loyal and enthusing one, and is growing with each gig and festival slot, no matter how big or small the stage. Raw and passionate, they have all the talent to help lead a new generation of Welsh artists into the spotlight. Just…cheer up lads though yeah?