Her Space Holiday

by: Her Space Holiday

Marc Bianchi's decision to wrap up Her Space Holiday seemed to come out of the blue, but the self-titled conclusion serves as a gentle, appropriate valediction, something that simultaneously draws on the understated bedroom pop that he first made his name with while feeling like a big, final bow, scaled to a stage or a screen. In a way, given how many acts seem to be all about the theatrical presentation and feel over recent years, hearing Bianchi's performance on "Anything for Progress" feels like both a nod to that kind of approach, and a way to reclaim it, strings and horns and drums all swirling around his quick, sprightly vocal, building to a big finish. "Black Cat Balloons" switches between softly whispered verses, quiet guitar, a gentle sense of space, and big, many-voiced choruses, all of which play off the two extremes nicely. On "The Candle Jumped Over the Spoon," meanwhile, the sense of a full-on production in overdrive reaches its height, concluding with a big, brawling match of chants, drums, and orchestration that segues into the drone-fuzz start of "Ghost in the Garden," a stately organ part providing the hook. The feeling of going big while meditating on deep thoughts also runs through much of the subject matter, and as such, the album follows in the vein of work by Neutral Milk Hotel, the Flaming Lips from Soft Bulletin forward, and so on. But it's a little less overbearing and a touch more sweet somehow, as can be heard on a song like "The Hummingbirds," pretty enough for a classic Disney ballad as Bianchi reflects on the passing of a family member. Meanwhile, "The Bullet, The Battle, The Trigger, The Barrel, and Me" strips it all down to just Bianchi and acoustic guitar at the start, a way to bring it all just a little closer before bringing in the drums and banjo at the end for a louder -- but never quite overdone -- conclusion. ~ Ned Raggett

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