Steady Holiday Nobodys Watching Review For Northern Transmissions

Barsuk Records

8.5/10

Steady Holiday

Nobody's Watching

To see the most classic pop progressions taken into new worlds is something truly magical. For Dre Babinski’s latest album as Steady Holiday, she brings guitars and strings into a mysterious space and lets them play to her emotional state. By letting listeners either be pulled in by the familiarity or unusual directions she brings to her music, Steady Holiday really finds a voice of her own on this record.

The synths create a vintage but surprisingly fresh tone on “Flying Colors” as Dre Babinski guides us into a magical world of strings and lush tones. Though reserved, the album lets its choruses really bloom to create a feeling of release like nothing else. With a bit of that same mystique that makes much of Charlotte Gainsbourg’s music so mesmerizing, “Mothers” moves even deeper into her noir world of smoky jazz and trippy effects. This magical energy invigorates every melody and lets choruses feel both larger than life and classic.

Unnerving vocal hooks start twisting the sounds of “Who’s Gonna Stop Us” as Babinski takes a blues track and starts to show its true colours. Even with the drawn-out verses, there’s so much excitement in her choruses that it’s easy to get overpowered by them. The fun lo-fi pop of “Nobody’s Watching” proves there’s an overtly catchy side to Babinski’s writing, and it’s really a mastery over feeling that she wields. Nevertheless, she still brings a sly darkness to keep you on your toes while listening.

“All Aboard” however, strangely dials everything back for a track that while soothing, ultimately lacks the same hazy beauty of the rest of the album. Luckily her story of love and trust gives enough to the song to balance things out. She spins into a disco energy for “Love And Pressure” on a track that slowly infects itself with her massive arrangements to create an intoxicating feeling over time. Steady Holiday’s  knack for pop vocals keeps the track bouncy and lets its writing stay loose enough to never totally feel too comfortable.

Despite an ominous feeling underneath the main hooks of “Eastern Comfort” it always seems to hover on the brink of a release in tension. This abrasive quality is certainly unique but may seem a little anticlimactic for some. Steady Holiday takes a strangely country direction on “Trapping Season” while letting her weird keyboards prevent it from feeling out of place on the record. With this in mind, the track does have an infectious spirit to it that will have you swaying back and forth as it goes.

“Exit Song” brings her guitar drive into its most crooner-like swing, as Steady Holiday slowly lures listeners from a simple chord progression into a demented other world. This twisting of sounds and little effects makes for a listening experience that’s unique in its own right and one that elevates even the twangs of her guitars. There’s a lot of meta humour to take from Babinski’s juxtaposition of the album’s finale with her own confessions. This is reflected in the writing as well, as she shakes her riffs every which way and inserts dark bass hooks to keep you as hypnotized as you are worried.

Words by Owen Maxwell