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Upon hearing one of their debut singles, ‘Penance,’ I was instantly fascinated by Holding Absence and their sound, which I personally found to be unique within the realms of current post-hardcore and alternative rock. The group’s self-titled debut album, which dropped back in early 2019, continued to showcase why the band stood out to me and many others in the first place. While I enjoyed said first full-length, I’m even more impressed by their newly released second LP, ‘The Greatest Mistake Of My Life.’
It all starts with ‘Awake,’ a beautiful instrumental introduction driven primarily by strings and pianos, which seamlessly transitions into the powerful ‘Celebration Song.’ From the brighter musical tones to the glimmers of optimism in the lyrics, this is a super uplifting track. Those lyrics are also quite reflective, overall conveying a triumphant celebration of being alive and surviving your darkest difficult days: “‘Cause I’ve earned a couple days amongst the sun / God knows I’ve more than paid my dues for all the months that I didn’t want to live through.“
‘Curse Me With Your Kiss‘ continues to carry that brighter, almost happier tone, and Ashley Green’s drumming really stand-out, pushing the energetic rhythms forward, preparing to launch into a huge chorus where Lucas Woodland’s vocals shine. Speaking of which, another massive hook lies in wait on the record’s towering anthemic single, ‘Afterlife,’ which contains unforgettable melodies and refrains throughout. This song truly is Holding Absence’s “Drown” moment in terms of scope and impact. It’ll become their biggest song in due time. Though darker progressions occur here, it’s on ‘Drugs and Love‘ where that full timbre shift follows suit, beginning with dramatic instrumentals that accompany a voicemail sample during the opening section. From a lyrical standpoint, that title foreshadows the track’s meaning: using drugs and relationships as a way to deal with numbness and emotional pain. The lyrics in the chorus – “Make me numb with drugs and love / What’ll save me from my solitude? / I’ve nothing left to turn to / Help me find a way to medicate” – convey this. Musically, these sections aren’t as dark, despite their lyrics, but they stand out more as a result.
‘In Circles‘ is practically a slow-jam comparison to the five tracks before it, and the vocals and instrumentals (aside from the prominent bass work) are of a softer, lighter dynamic. Allowing the band a classic quiet-loud dynamic when the chorus and the bridge passages hit, easily making for the highlights of the track. ‘Beyond Belief‘, one of the catchiest moments of this release, using religious references within the lyrics (“is your hell up above or heaven below?”) to create intriguing imagery; describing the feeling of being in love with someone for eternity even if that feeling isn’t reciprocated. It’s an unrequited simp anthem. ‘Die Alone (In Your Lover’s Arms)‘ is more laid-back during its verses, one of which contains a guest feature from Lucas’ sister Caitlin, these verses gradually leading you by the hand to far larger choruses with even more impressive vocal performances.
‘Phantoms‘ is another interlude led by delicate, intricate instrumentals. Not so sparse, said instrumentals accompany a spoken word speech that touches upon loss and grief, with lines like “If I knew that day would be my last with him, I’d have done anything to reach him before the door shut.” ‘Mourning Song‘ is centred around the same topic, with the pre-chorus explaining the shock of a bereavement (“When you looked me in the eyes, how could I have known that that would be your final goodbye?”) and the chorus stating how painful it is to suddenly lose someone so close to you. In sections like these, it’s Lucas‘ heartfelt vocal delivery, the kind that’s so brutally poignant, that perfectly communicates and sells the raw sorrow held within these songs.
The album then concludes with its titular piece, ‘The Greatest Mistake Of My Life.’ An interesting fact about this one is that it’s actually a cover of a song by the same title. Original by Gracie Field and released in 1939, it ended up making a huge impact on this LP overall, which Lucas discussed in more detail during an interview with Loudwire. Holding Abscene’s rendition of this near century-old song is led by a sombre vocal performance from Lucas, with a sophisticated piano accompaniment. While it is much more simplistic than the majority of the tracks before it, it wraps up ‘The Greatest Mistake…‘ wonderfully.
Despite how much I enjoyed Holding Absence’s self-titled debut LP, I feel as though ‘The Greatest Mistake Of My Life’ is the superior release, the better version of what its predecessor was trying to do. This album is going to be a very big deal for Holding Absence, their next step towards world domination. With its multiple, highly impressive performances – on both the vocal and instrumental frontiers – and its emotionally charged introspective lyrics, I found this to be a very captivating listen. One that I will confidently say is one of my favourite LPs of 2021. The greatest mistake you can make about it is not giving it a chance.
2. Celebration Song
3. Curse Me With Your Kiss
5. Drugs and Love
6. In Circles
8. Beyond Belief
9. Die Alone (In Your Lover’s Arms)
11. Mourning Song
12. The Greatest Mistake Of My Life
Stream ‘The Greatest Mistake Of My Life’ below: