I have been on the Holland bandwagon for a while. I saw them twice before this cd, their debut, came out. They didn’t really seem to rock that hard though, compared to the punk bands they were touring with. As a good groupie, I went out and bought the CD almost as soon as it came out. I popped it in….and enjoyed the noise.
Holland is dark rock with pop leanings, if I had to classify. You can sing along easily, but it’s not really all that major or happy. Even the upbeat songs are about conflict, like the first song, “The Whole World”. It’s an immediately catchy anthem that sounds happy but proclaims: “Hey, can you believe what you hear… We’re not taking this no more…I’m not taking this no more”. The chorus begs to be sung to, and I oblige often, as this is more towards pop than rock.
The repetitive “I’m Not Backing Down” tries to rock but falls into pop cliché’s. Of course, it was the radio single (my opinion on radio singles). A great muted drum riff starts off “Shine Like Stars” which still has the upbeat style but is somehow more satisfying than the first two songs. The depressing lyrics appear again: “We shine like stars oh yeah…Bright as the sun, we’re dead and gone, we shine like stars!” It’s a great twist of a cliché.
The next song “Because of You” showcases their slower side with a beautiful, acoustic driven, orchestra supported piece thanking someone for sticking with them through thick and thin. “One Minute to Zero” rocks harder than anything previous, and features a great guitar riff. As we return to pop rock, “Call It a Day” hits us with a soaring guitar line and lyrics about regrets. “Bring Back July” features a fantastic set of lyrics, also about regrets.
A single acoustic guitar sets the mood in “Losing Jim”, a sad, slow ballad about losing people. “Goodnight Texas” is a huge, long guitar rock masterpiece about how much they hate their home state. The title track is the last one, a keyboard-tinged mellow rock song about, take a wild guess, regrets! But specifically, it’s about leaving LA.
Holland bares all on this CD. They left Texas, moved to LA, failed in LA, and moved away, and composed these songs as a sort of “Thank You, I’m Sorry, I Love You” to all they left behind in both places. The lyrics address similar themes but never are repetitive, the guitar riffs never monotonous, but the melodies somewhat sound the same by the end. Very emotional, very powerful CD. Not as soft as the Goo Goo Dolls, but not as hard as The Juliana Theory. Great debut. 8 out of 10.