Crystal Shipsss - Holly

8 songs
22:04 minutes
***** ***
Raw Onion


There are few such artists like Jacob Faurholt who release about two albums a year without ever dropping in quality. The music he publishes under his own name is usually more song-oriented, whereas his more or less solo project Crystal Shipsss allows him to explore his darker and more experimental side. In January I reviewed very favourably Superglue, his latest and about ninth actual solo album. And a short year ago, I was quite awed by the super-experimental I Will See No Moon No Sky where Crystal Shipsss offered his most extravagant sonic journey yet.

With the short album Holly, Faurholt aka Crystal Shipsss is moving back to somewhat more regular music, a bit like what we got to hear on Dirty Dancer from 2013. This is also his first Crystal Shipsss album recorded in his native Denmark, after a long stay in Berlin. Apart from some unobtrusive guest vocals on one track by his girlfriend Nadia Sharpe, a co-production credits from Jens Christian Madsen aka Tjaere+Fjer and the mastering by James Plotkin (ISIS, Nadja, Khanate), this is a fully-fledged solo album recorded in his home studio.

The opener and title track, Holly, is with five minutes the only longer track on the album. Itís basically a monotonous and melancholic ballad accompanied by a simple drum track and Eighties inspired synthesizer sounds. The constant repetition of the lyrics by Faurholtís strange yet charismatic falsetto voice turns this into something very mesmerising where you will soon lose any concept of time and find yourself singing along to the dramatic vocals. The remaining songs never make it once over three minutes, starting with Flowers, a somewhat more upbeat track once again dominated by a simple drum beat and ethereal synth sounds. Love begins more sedate, maybe even disappointingly so, but the noisy guitar outburst towards the end more than makes up for that. As a matter of fact, there is not that much guitar on the album, but whenever it turns up, it gives the music more depth. The one-and-a-half-minute short Pink ends the first half in a soothing way.

The second half begins with the catchy World, the one track where we get some female guest vocals, and again some guitar that helps turning this into one of the albumís highlights. Robots goes back to synthesizers and drum programming, is another ballad, nice enough, but somewhat inconspicuous between its predecessor and the following Captain. This bubble-gummy pop song starts with dreamy nice arpeggio synth sequence which then stays in the background to make room for the jangly guitar and the vocals which turn this song into the albumís secret highlight, next to the amazing title track. Finally Eerie ends the album on an eerie note.

To be frank, Holly may not be Crystal Shipsssí best album so far. I prefer his amazing debut Yay and the incredible accompanying Crystal Hitsss (The New Slave Remixes), and also the ultra-strange I Will See No Moon No Sky, but that doesnít mean that Holly is a lesser album. Both halves of the album have two great and two still good tracks, and even if that seems like not so much on a twenty-two minute short mini-LP, itís still a nice gift from the artist who offers the digital version of the album on his Bandcamp page for any donation you think fit. A free download is possible, but Jacob Faurholt would really deserve some of your euros for his constant dedication to his listeners.

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