Holy Wave has been steadily honing their psych sound since their formation in 2008. The Austin, Texas based quintet has been a mainstay of the national touring circuit for long over a decade now and has helped define the landscape of modern psychedelia. The fifth-full length album Interloper is a lush expanse of crystalline synths and dreamy guitars flowing together with the gentle beats of pop and chillhop. This collection takes its time and digs deep into your senses, creating a slew of mind-bending imagery with rich colors and textures. It’s slow burning attitude lends itself to relaxed listening while with its constantly shifting melodies and genre-bending twists leave no room for boredom .
The record opens with a dreamy fairy-tale landscape in “Schmetterling”. Fluttering synths and harmonies dance together in a tight groove, with every texture feeling like a breath of fresh air. In the title track “Interloper” we return to this suspended dream-state again (but did we ever leave?). With the lyrics: “drink yourself into a ditch / so consumed by politics” we see the strong theme of escapism that runs through the album. Unlike other records released in 2020, Interloper has a strong positive focus. Although hints of darkness and loneliness are present, it remains an undercurrent for the lush reality they’ve created.
Along with psychedelia, the band uses krautrock as a hypnotic base to fill in their more exploratory themes and machinations. “I’m Not Living in the Past Anymore” stands on a constant pulsing of drums, bass and guitar wah with its title chanted like a mantra. Layer in their psychic flourishes on top of that and it feels like a mind-bending adventure through the astral realm. “Buddhist Pete” follows with the krautrock drone and synthwave cinematics. A propulsive force of music that causes irresistible head-bobbing.
My favorite track in this album is “No Love”, which blooms with a glorious synth and saxophone explosion towards its ending. It’s a sudden surge of energy that pulls you out of the hypnosis only to be taken to a place of greater grandeur. Hearing it for the first time gave me an uplifting euphoria, and is just one example of how the band switches up expectations for great payoff.
Truly a powerful record backed by years of craftsmanship. The band has come a long way since their lo-fi garage roots. Interloper is filled with songs you can chill with, but it will also provide a constant sense of wonder through all its ten tracks.