Holopaw, 'Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness.' (Bakery Outlet)

Critical Mass
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by Spencer Kornhaber

John Orth's voice has a delicious quaver, lending it an unhinged quality that recalls Cursive's Tim Kasher and Okkervil River's Will Sheff. And like those bands, Holopaw lives for lyrics. Each raging breakdown, violin swell, or alt-country denouement on this Seattle sextet's third album serves Orth's narrative. It's too bad that his narrative, heavily freighted with allegory, is so frustratingly inaccessible. A few perfect couplets communicate cynical heartbreak ("Sailors lost to a drunken sea / Says the ocean, what's that got to do with me?"), but it's tough to appreciate the album's craftsmanship when you can't locate the plot.

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