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Holopaw: Academy Songs, Vol I

Misra

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Gainesville, Fla.'s Holopaw, which is essentially singer/guitarist John Orth and his latest bandmates, creates rich and intimate sketches on this concept-based fourth album. Like his buddy Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse), with whom he collaborated for Ugly Casanova, Holopaw conveys a wistful bedroom quality awash in melancholy. It is, perhaps, fitting given the aforementioned tone that Academy Songs is a loose song cycle about an all-boys prep school that's fitted with taut, nervy introspection. The tenderness of Orth's tenor croon amplifies the delicacy of the compositions, though the many sonic layers offer robustness that contrasts the existential vibe. The dramatic mien of these 12 tunes (including the hidden track) draws the listener into its watercolor swirl of loose, evocative shape and plush but muted sonic shades. (4 out of 5 stars)

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