By Robin Mumford of Plug Indie
Heart-wrenching lyrics and psychological ambience that leave you feeling like you are stood on the edge of a cliff as the world beneath you crumbles around your feet; Holly Humberstone’s debut EP seems to do the impossible and constructs a masterpiece of artwork through the mercurial temperament of life’s struggles and chaos. Her poignant storytelling coincides with the dark ambience that encapsulates the listener from start to finish before leaving them in puddles by the end. Holly’s indie-pop sound is analogous to that of Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers and this isn’t the last time you will hear her name given her recent successes of reaching 20million Spotify streams and selling out her first headline gigs in fall.
The opening track ‘Deep End’ does exactly what it says on the tin and plunges you into an emotional whirlpool fuelled by the tragic story of her sister’s depression and Holly’s hopeless feeling of not being able to help. Acting as a message of support, this melancholic construct is exactly the heart-worn start the listeners needed to ready them for the journey that the British musician intends to drive them through. Though the atmosphere in the whispering voice of this first track is enough to send you deeper into this whirlpool, the pain is only heightened when watching the music video. What seems to be a clip of Holly standing in the rain, it later becomes known that her sister is holding a hose over her, bringing more darkness to the already dramatic artwork.
In a recent interview, Holly explained that the next song ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’ was created “at the house I grew up in, which is very old and falling apart.” Whilst listening to this song and ‘Overkill’ for the first time I was expecting a typical pop song sound featuring a deeper and darker meaning and my verdict was correct until producer and friend, Rob Milton uses a carefully crafted mix of electronic ecstasy to add layer after layer to these two hymns. The electronic layers that are added into these help to provoke soulful ambience to the already astonishing vocals of Holly Humberstone and further adds texture to the ever-growing whirlpool.
In what is turning out to be a breath of fresh air in the pop music scene, ‘Drop Dead’ is another gem on this heart-wounding debut EP. Euphonious vocals alongside the heartbeat-like thumps heard in the background bring together what is my favourite track after a few listens. For me, this song depicts the dark tone that Holly achieves throughout her first creation and successfully continues to allow the addictive ambience shown in the earlier songs to flow effortlessly from song to song. Meanwhile, ‘Vanilla’ explores the dissimilitude in her vocals as this number strays away from the dark mood and opts for a more upbeat poem-like approach. “But guess I feel a little nauseous Think I should be cautious” is a perfect example of how the rhythmic structure in this melody is used to lift the spirit of the listener after being plummeted to darkness in the earlier stages of the album.
The closing song ‘Livewire’ takes on a mix of ‘Vanilla’ and the songs in the rest of the album with Holly showing her ability to fade in and out with vocals both high and low. I couldn’t help but wish this album was longer after hearing this last song which showed the inexplicable talent of Holly Humberstone. Though in a puddle after listening to this soul crushing and anthemic album, the journey that I was put on is good enough to gain my first five star review.
Holly Humberstone has begun her whirlpool journey in the music industry, we can see the potential of her already but we will leave this question to you, just how big will she become? *****