For the Holiday

For the Holiday (Self-released)

For the Holiday's self-titled debut starts with a surge of keyboards and chiming bells that sounds positively, well, holiday-like. And the disc just gets more literal from there: "On the Bright Side" waxes luminously about candles and sunlit skies, while "Ostinato" employs the same drowsy, mesmerizing arpeggio for nearly its entire length. But For the Holiday's heart-on-sleeve sincerity is perfectly balanced by raw, wrenching immediacy on one side and prog-level ambition on the other. "Oh, Familiar" resembles a Starflyer 59 or Sunny Day Real Estate track you listened to once and only barely remember, while the instrumental "Colours" glints with a kaleidoscopic ambience. But the most literal title here has to be the soaring, shadow-haunted "We Can Do No Wrong" -- because with this stunning first release, For the Holiday has crafted a record that is, quite simply, flawless.

 
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