Imagine having synesthesia, seeing music and words as colours and memories. If this were the Wax Castle would be a sepia-toned montage of all the best parts of your teenage years, melded together into one overarching, cohesive filmic entity. Sound good? It is. The Detroit-based duo describes themselves as anything from “euphoric dream pop to lo-fi garage rock”, and would suit fans of Purity Ring and Lana Del Ray, although their tracks are more slow burners than the latter’s anthemic hits.
The album opens with Ice House, a slow, synthy set-up for the rest of the tracks. Admittedly, it’s my least favourite song on the album, but it’s a lovely mellow start to a record so laid back it’s practically horizontal. Then, into the rapid guitar picking of Beverly, which then shifts into a slower, more moody tone, reminiscent of Smashing Pumpkins if they had had a female singer. I think it’s this dichotomy between the slightly breathy but vaguely husky female voice and the low-pitched guitar that makes Holy Golden’s music so memorable: it gives you something you don’t expect.
Other highlights of the album include Cut Up In Rows and Heads Will Fall, both heavily bass driven beauties that provide a necessary contrast to the more obscure tracks like Echo Park and Frontiers – each of which have their own, ethereal tone that are as charmingly kooky as the artists themselves. Not to mention the album artwork, a sequinned arts and crafts affair with a jarring edge that reflects the tracks down to the tee.
Being On Our Backs is, to me, the pinnacle of the album, combining all aspects of their sound into one masterfully crafted 3 and a half minute segment. It’s fragile, interesting, and above all, individual, combining airy, layered vocals with a simple guitar undertone and a heavy dose of nostalgia, a perfect pairing to those heady summer days headed our way.
If you’ve been searching for Holy Golden’s self-proclaimed “imaginative kingdom of sound”, then you’ll find it in Wax Castle.