Album Review: Holiday Ghosts – West Bay Playroom

Brighton based four-piece Holiday Ghosts release their second LP, West Bay Playroom on PNKSLM Records, and it’s an album rooted in cathartic and collective joy.

Musically the touchstone for West Bay Playroom is garage rock, opener ‘Low Flying Bird’, with its The Clean-esque keyboard, chugging bass and doo-wop backing vocals, wastes no time in setting this tone – it gets your toes tapping and starts the feel of a smile forming on your face. ‘Slipstream’ is a strong contender for catchiest tune of the year with its impossible-not-to-sing-along to group vocal chorus and surf rock guitar licks, whereas the almost country rhythm of ‘Chumps’ wouldn’t be out of place on The Strange Boys’ excellent ‘The Strange Boys and Girls Club’, an accolade if ever there was one. Each and every song on West Bay Playroom is full-to-the-brim with ideas, taking their musical cues from all over the place and shows Holiday Ghosts interpreting them in their own way – by no means have an easy feat, but the four-piece pulled it off with aplomb.

As great as this all is the real beauty is how West Bay Playroom, throughout its 36 minutes run time, makes you feel. Indeed, there’s something woven into the fabric of the 14 songs found here that make you feel less alone in dealing with the crap that gets thrown at you each and every day.  Maybe its Katja Rackin’s singing “I’m only here so I can feel alive and I don’t need your confirmation to survive” on ‘Stuck Here’?  or the call and response from what sounds like most of the band of “How does it feel? It feels like I’m running on a spinning wheel” on ‘Slipstream’?  Shrugging off the expectations of others and relying on your own personal validation, feeling chewed up and spit out by the gears of modern society no matter how hard you try to keep running on the treadmill, these are problems that most of us, if not all of us, face at some point.

West Bay Playroom makes you feel like you aren’t alone in feeling like this, its frenetic energy makes you feel like you’ve walked into a packed gig with everybody feeling the same, a collective and cathartic outpouring.  It’s easy for garage rock record like this to be ‘party’ records without really meaning anything, but Holiday Ghosts latest offering completely avoids this – it harnesses the power and energy of the genre to mean something, to make a statement.

In these tough times, we all need a release, a valve to release the pressure and in turn inspire social change – Holiday Ghosts’ West Bay Playroom is one of those records.

West Bay Playroom is out via PNKSLM Records on Friday 15th February.  Find out more via this link: https://holidayghosts.bandcamp.com/album/west-bay-playroom-lp