Holding Absence – The Greatest Mistake of My Life (Album Review)

Holding Absence – The Greatest Mistake of My Life
Released: April 16, 2021

Lineup:

Lucas Woodland | vocals
Scott Carey | guitar
Ashley Green | drums

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Breaking free from their black and white coloured world, Welsh boys Holding Absence are finally back and exploding into saturated colours through their sophomore album The Greatest Mistake of My Life.

I have followed Holding Absence’s journey very closely since day one, when they released their first two singles ‘Dream of Me’ and ‘Permanent’ back in 2017. I was infatuated with their sound from the get go and was left feeling like a lovesick teenager when I learnt they didn’t have more music out yet. I distinctively remember getting on their Instagram and begging them to come to Australia one day. I found Lucas’ vocals to be such a huge standout, like nothing I had ever heard before. His ability to draw so much raw emotion, leaving the listener hooked on every word, really is second to none. I can say with full confidence that he is one of the best vocalists in the scene.

With the release of their split EP with Loathe in 2018, Holding Absence continued to gain traction and more and more fans. Their debut self titled album finally dropped in 2019 and what a marvellous introductory album it is. Now, don’t remind me that they were finally booked to play here last year with Tapestry as it’s still a very sensitive subject for me. But seriously, I will never forgive 2020 for taking that show (and the return of MCR) away from us.

The start of the year saw their bassist James Joseph depart to pursue his other musical project, however the band have ensured it hasn’t put any grey clouds over the release of the new record. The aesthetics used for the promos and roll out of The Greatest Mistake Of My Life have been executed so well, radiating big 70’s vibes from the film cameras used on their videos, to bold song titles with fine print.

It all begins with ‘Awake’, which creates the feeling of floating over soft, colourful clouds. Whispers of ‘I’m alive’ sweep their way over the lush soundscapes, gracefully melting away as quickly as it began. Bleeding effortlessly into the next track, ‘Celebration Song’ has some of Lucas’ biggest vocals to date. As the celebration of life after depression, this song paints a beautiful picture of hope. It’s a powerhouse of an opener, setting the bar high for the rest of the tracks to come. An ode to the one that got away, ‘Curse Me with Your Kiss’ is as relatable as it is catchy. Lyrics ‘I dream of you in colours that don’t exist’ struck a serious chord with me. Holding Absence have such a unique way of compelling you to reflect on your own life and relationships and at least for me, that’s what makes the bond with their songs so strong.

The first time I heard ‘Afterlife’, I’ll be honest I wasn’t sold on it. Lucas’ clean vocals sounded so different to what we’d heard in the past, more abrasive and similar to his scream. I’m proud to report it has 1000% grown on me and I now love the shift in their sound on this track. It’s punchy, fun and I am so hyped to hear it live one day. The video clip literally looks like the band are performing in a vase of potpourri, now painting sadness in colour rather than in black and white.

Glowing and charming melodies weave their way through ‘Drugs and Love’, somehow creating a bandaid to cover the deep wound this song leaves. Addressing how people often use things such as drugs or love to blanket deeper issues, we see Holding Absence continue to speak hard and important truths. The way the lads have been able to cast the raw and numb emotions onto the listener, again demonstrates the powerful and undeniable talent this band possess. ‘In Circles’ definitely sparked some watery eyes on the first listen, the weight this song conveys is absolutely incredible. With a distant flickering noise sounding almost like an old film being played on a projector at the movies, it all continues to tie into the whole aesthetic created for this record. Without a doubt, my favourite chorus from the entire album and I’ll continue to listen to it on and on in circles.

I’m not even sure where to begin with ‘Nomoreroses’, this song took me by surprise in the best ways possible. Gifting us with lots of abrasive screams, a beautiful chorus and a fast paced section that ends up being pretty close to rapping, this track takes risks and absolutely pays off. As the first single released from the album, ‘Beyond Belief’ was going to be hard to top. If you need something to increase your endorphin levels, this is it. The lyrics ‘you’ve got infinity and you offer it to me’ have a way of shining optimism and hope on a world that often seems quite dark.

Die Alone (In Your Lovers Arms)’ has an incredible feature by Lucas’ sister and is unquestionably a strong contender to be the new ‘If It Means a Lot to You’ by A Day To Remember. Telling a tale of regret from both sides of a deathbed, this song ignites chills on every listen. Cascading drums build on the anticipation created by layers of both vocals, naturally rebounding off each other. Now if it’s not obvious enough from the name, go and grab some tissues before you listen to ‘Mourning Song’. On the other end of the emotional spectrum from ‘Celebration Song’, I’m left so baffled that one record can make you feel so many sensations.

The final track ‘The Greatest Mistake of My Life’, ties into the interesting story behind naming the album. As part of the bands documentary on YouTube, Lucas explains that his nan once mentioned that he was actually not the first in the family to have music on vinyl. Her uncle quite some time ago had recorded himself singing a song by Gracie Fields, of which the name was ‘The Greatest Mistake of My Life’. Holding Absence even sneakily played the original track over the speakers at one of their shows in the UK while they had the band photo taken. Keeping the crackling audio of an old record being played, we now hear Lucas’ version coming full circle to again be pressed on vinyl.

The Greatest Mistake of My Life is like a warm hug for anyone struggling with themselves, anyone feeling alone, anyone who is searching for a light in the dark. Fluctuating between intense and radiant, haunting and hopeful at all the right moments, this album is honestly a flawless masterpiece.

Put simply, The Greatest Mistake of My Life is all of the emotions someone would feel over a lifetime, experienced in just 48 minutes. The love I have for Holding Absence grows more and more with every single release, I cannot wait for them to get the attention they so truly deserve.

Holding Absence – The Greatest Mistake of My Life tracklisting

1. Awake
2. Celebration Song
3. Curse Me with Your Kiss
4. Afterlife
5. Drugs and Love
6. In Circles
7. Nomoreroses
8. Beyond Belief
9. Die Alone (In Your Lover’s Arms)
10. Phantoms
11. Mourning Song
12. The Greatest Mistake of My Life

Rating: 10/10
The Greatest Mistake of My Life is out now via Sharptone Records. Order it here
Review By – Rhiannon Porter (@rrhiannonporter)

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