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No Smoke, No Mirrors

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Album Review

Always the most jovial of the plethora of ramshackle guitar bands that emerged in the mid-noughties, Brighton-based four-piece the Holloways' sunny disposition has been seriously tested recently thanks to a legal dispute with their U.S. label and a fire that destroyed both their equipment and rehearsal space. Despite these setbacks, their happy-go-lucky nature remains firmly intact, as evident on their second album, No Smoke, No Mirrors, which like its predecessor, 2007's So This Is Great Britain?, blends exuberant punk-pop, ska-tinged indie, and a cavalcade of tropical melodies and rhythms to produce a relentlessly uplifting set of pogo-inducing summer party anthems. Brimming with optimism, the likes of lead single "Jukebox Sunshine," a jaunty fusion of plinky-plonky pizzicato strings, shimmering percussion, and infectious "whoa-whoas," the sun-soaked Brit-pop of "Alcohol," an ode to the perils of weekend excesses whose joyful guitar riffs bear an uncanny resemblance to Katrina & the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine," and the faux-calypso leanings of "Under a Cloud" all wouldn't sound out of place at Notting Hill Carnival. Slightly counteracting the feel-good vibes are the album's regular swipes at the establishment (the crisp indie pop of "Sinners n' Winners," the eco-themed "Little Johnny Went to Parliament") and its fascination with the mundaneness of British life such as rubbish TV (the banjo-led folky "Public Service Broadcast"), the public obsession with celebrity (the driving opening number "AAA"), and disrespectful youths on public transport (the bouncy 2 Tone of "On the Bus"). But other than the slow-burning closer "Knock Me Down," a mournful string-soaked ballad featuring occasional bursts of operatic rock, its 11 tracks are all instilled with the same kind of cheeky-chappy persona that made Top 20 single "Generator" such a bona fide indie disco classic. No Smoke, No Mirrors isn't the most original of affairs, with quite obvious traces of the Libertines, Jamie T, and Blur, just to name a few, but it would take a hard-hearted indie fan to not warm to its refreshingly optimistic and jubilant brand of playful guitar pop. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi


Formed: 2004 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

With their rabble-rousing rock spirit, the Holloways feature Alfie Jackson (vocals/guitar), Rob Skipper (vocals/guitar), Bryn Fowler (bass), and Dave Danger (drums). Formed in fall 2004, the chirpy foursome take their name from the shabby north London streetside that hosts the Nambucca music club, the place that brought the four aspiring musicians together. As the Holloways, they mix the jovial pop sounds of the Rumble Strips with the beer-addled rock & roll of the Libertines to create their own...
Full bio
No Smoke, No Mirrors, The Holloways
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  • 9,99 €
  • Genres: Rock, Music
  • Released: 04 October 2009

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