Hollow Graves | Hollow Graves Album Review
Canadian post-punk outfit Hollow Graves have proved that it’s not just Europe (and specifically, Britain) that struggles through grey days. Their self-titled debut exhibits influences from Joy Division to Two Door Cinema Club and refreshingly, lots of talent.
For a bunch of Canadians, Hollow Graves know how to make a decent, overcast post-punk record. With Joy Division’s influence still exceedingly apparent, the group seem to harness all the negative energy pummelled into them and shape it into a dreary yet dreamy LP.
Essentially, the self-titled debut is the result of a melancholic meeting between Editors, Foals and Two Door Cinema Club, with the aforementioned undeniable touch of Joy Division thrown in. ‘Fusion’ would appear to be the correct term to describe the overall sound - dozens of elements and noticeable snippets that are isolated, yet provide the structure of the album when put together.
Take the opener, “Red Eye” for example. Echoes of Editors’ The Back Room whistle through the track, yet an unmistakable vocal comparison can be made to Two Door Cinema Club: the line, “Tell me what’s on your mind” cements that personal, indie approach. The DIY method of tearing something down to its roots and utilising it yourself is very similar to Night Sins’ 2012 effort, New Grave, except where they rely almost exclusively on their historical counterparts (Sisters Of Mercy, Fields Of The Nephilim), Hollow Graves hold their own with commendable songwriting.
Many thought the answer to mediocre alternative post-2010 was punk, again. Sure, it’s made a comeback, but its integrity is already beginning to wear thin. Every 5 minutes there’s a ‘punk’ band pushing their ‘unique’ sound, promoting it everywhere in the hope that they’ll be on every phone screen, billboard and bus stop as soon as possible. Punk becomes saturated very quickly, just like it did after the Sex Pistols exploded in 1977. Perhaps post-punk is the answer after all (if the question even needs to be answered, that is). And if the Canadians can do it better than the Brits, then there’s optimism to be had from overseas support yet.
The third track, “On Your Shoulders” emulates the cold streets of urban life with precision. Seemingly taken straight off a Foals record, the realisation hits that these guys don’t even sound Canadian. Nationality is besides the point; what’s interesting is that Hollow Graves could pass for a London, Manchester or even a Leicester post-punk act any day of the week. Their authenticity is startling. “On Your Shoulders” flows into “Soda”, the most determined point on the record, and opening with the line, “Back alley streets feed my need for [night?]”, it unfolds into an Interpol-esque number. The problem? The song is too goddamn short.
Speaking of which, the entire album is too short. Is it even meant to be an LP? At 17 minutes total, it’s unlikely. But who knows. The full album upload on Youtube is currently sitting at a measly 621 views, and there is a significant lack of information on the band’s social media pages, or anywhere for that matter - not even the band members’ names. But that’s brilliant. It’s not like Hollow Graves have done this on purpose, it’s just unimportant. The music is important. What allowed post-punk to be mysterious in the first place (besides the obvious romanticism and perplexity surrounding Ian Curtis) was the lack of data and info on the movement at the time, and more importantly, the fact that people ignored it. But it’s still high art. And as long as people ignore high art, then it’s our niche, underground joy to treasure.