By Brian Tucker
Chemistry is a great album. Released in 2014, I picked up a copy in December and have been playing it ever since. Unsure how to properly convey what Holland Revival sounds like, I just kept spinning it. Tight musicianship and solid melodies aside, Chemistry is soaked in atmosphere, one that recalls different decades. Creative and rich in subdued melodies, the songs are a great ride. It corrals classic rock and jam band sounds with music that can be a bit trippy, form Pink Floyd to Steely Dan’s smooth aesthetics. Sometimes songs are reaching back, like something pouring out of a late 70s car radio on the main drag of Carolina Beach during summer. Sometimes the songs evoke summer festivals and lengthy, free for all jams.
Chemistry is warmly textured, a colorful collection of material. Check out the smoke and sunshine that helps shape the mood on “Marinate.” Music is often tempered with a jam band personality combined with 70s era super group sounds. “Gastonia” has the energy of both REO Speedwagon and Widespread Panic, and great piano licks by Royce Williams. “Paper Tree” is another highlight. Working as a slow burn, it’s coolly paired with jazz piano playing and Brian Bland’s airy, cruise control vocals. The same for the album title track, one whose dusky ambiance has 8-track all over it.
But it’s all part of a multi-layered result. The band doesn’t play its music like some remember when act. Fun as the songs are, the band takes it serious, from playing to production. Humble funk is found on “The Right Words to Say” and there’s slinky jam band guitar on “Don’t Put Your Doubt on Me.” And album highlight “Rained All Summer” could have been some epic monster-piece, but its massive soundscape is restrained to a four and half minute gem of a song that’ll sound great on the radio.
There’s an intoxicating, space-ride-to-the-past quality to Chemistry combined with playful, near-carnival vibes on many songs. Chemistry may surprise you, it may confound you. Regardless, it should engage you if you relax and let it.