Our review of Nadine Shah's 'Holiday Destination'


Holiday Destination

Nadine Shah

While still a little under the radar this side of the Atlantic, Nadine Shah is a force to be reckoned with on her third record. Hitting with unconventional rhythms and demented melodies, Shah brings a sense of danger and edge in her music that’s rare to come by. Throwing in power and an underlying pop genius, she delivers again and again on this album for something you’ll want to put on repeat.

Immediately mystifying, “Place Like This” opens the record on a frantic and driving funk groove, made all the more powerful thanks to the mix of percussive instruments. As the riffs come in the dance swing comes into full effect making the song a chant and groove-driven party. Through a psychedelic guitar riff and infectious vocal hook “Holiday Destination” powers forward, and the hook of “How you gonna sleep tonight” takes it even further. With its blend of moody keyboards and the shrieking stops, the track really ups finds a unique way to catch listeners before its experimental bridge.

“2016” rolls on a mix of bass and drums as it flows with a more loose sense of direction. Instead, Shah’s spiraling vocals take the song on a roller coaster, pulling in shades of Warpaint in the tone-layering it brings to its second half. On abrasive rhythms, “Out The Way” gives punk attitude, letting its weird guitars add to the attack. The washes of distortion that colour its choruses make for a powerful charge that showcases shah as a bandleader triumphant and commanding that makes the notably repetitive song a lot more enticing.

With some 90s chorus that recalls hints of “Come As You Are” Shah gets deep into her vocal range on “Yes Men” finding an oddly intoxicating pull in her delivery. Challenging the idea of incessant policy pushers, the track’s blend of heavy moods and political protest makes the harmonic choruses all the more exciting and joyous. In the heavy drums of “Evil” there’s an instantly catchy drive to the track, as Shah rides the wave with attitude. The fluttering touches on top add a magical feel to the track and Shah’s melodic driving is infectious to say the least, long before the exotic tones of the guitars shred in.

Recalling notes of the Kills on “Ordinary,” Shah blends in Blondie-styled melodies for a track that is hypnotic. The demented harmonies and the delightful overall thrill the song carries in its momentum is a thrill to follow. “Relief” goes from funk to Lynchian-Jazz within seconds, making for a mesmerizing mix of sax and weird, warped guitars. The utterly haunting synth and guitar clashing, all made pointed by Shah’s eerie vocals makes for a track that will be hard to forget.

“Mother Fighter” finds Shah bringing endless amounts of pop-sensibility to a charged guitar and drum track, that’s as hefty as it is addictive. The cries of the feedback throughout the chorus makes for layers of catchy moments that all come together for something strange and instantly fierce. Making a broody finale on the cloudy “Jolly Sailor” the piano and hum melodies make the electronic drive intensely gripping. As Shah finally breaks through on the vocals shouts of the track the song really starts to take flight, and while it never quite has the explosive moment you’re craving, it thrills all the same.

Words by Owen Maxwell


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