If there was anything off Port St. Willow‘s EP from 2010 that could have been emphasized more, in my opinion, it would have been more percussion. As it stood, Even // Wasteland was a viable effort that launched Nick Principe into the indie music limelight. Principe is back with a full length LP called Holiday and on it, my dreams have come true.
“Two Five Five Two” is the introduction, opening the door with some light static and feedback for “Hollow”, in which Principe displays his signature falsetto vocals amidst a backdrop of swirling, minimalist instrumentation. And there, right there!, is a heavier, more focused percussion.
Behind it all is that subtle rumble, not quite feedback, not quite static, not quite distortion. It’s dreamy, soft, almost calming. It connects each song to the next. “Hollow” becomes the melodic, emotive “Amawalk”. Volume swells, percussion hits double-time, and you’re just swept away.
“On Your Side” returns to minimalism, and Principe adds a trumpet to the mix, then enters “Corners” with more focus on Principe’s skilled guitar arrangements.
Port St. Willow then dives into the opening of “Orphan”, which starts as an a capella with minimal percussive accompaniment. The song grows and builds into one of the album’s top tracks. Likewise, you can hear similar arrangements with “Tourist” and “North”.
“Tourist”, like “Amawalk” and “Orphans” before it, rounds out the album’s pinnacle tracks, again with double-timed percussion and an equally catchy falsetto vocal pattern. The album concludes with “Consumed”, yet another high point.
To be honest, all this descriptive talk is kind of bumming me out. I don’t feel I’m doing justice to Holiday. I don’t feel I’m giving Port St. Willow the credit that’s due. This is a truly phenomenal album, one that will sneak into your soul and bring out all the emotion hiding within, that will simultaneously excite you with its immense cool. It builds and wanes at all the precise, proper moments.
Holiday is a cohesive unit, from beginning to end, and it will stretch the bounds of your imagination. It is a headphones album, one that works great with them but can suffice without. At the end, if there’s a single word that could describe this album, it would relate to the closing track: Holiday is consuming. It envelopes you in sound, drowning out the world, masking everything but the music.
So for now, I’m going to shut this lap top, put on the early 1980s Sony “earmuffs” I pulled out of grandma’s storage unit after she passed, lay back, and give Holiday another full listen or two.
See you tomorrow.
Download: “Tourist” by Port St. Willow
[audio:120622-port-st-willow-tourist.mp3|titles=Tourist|artists=Port St. Willow]
1. Two Five Five Two
4. On Your Side
7. Five Two Two Five
10. Put The Armor On The Mantle