When I first got my hands on the album, I thought the band was called Concordia. Who would make an album about “Happy Hollows”, I thought.
While Concordia wasn’t a strange name for a group, I could hardly imagine an album written about bright, happy trees and the spaces between them. I placed the cd in the player and braced myself for what had to be some crazy post-rock about an arboretum theme park.Little did I know.
It soon became very clear to me that this album was not about trees, or the “Happy Hollows” between them. Each song was different, yet heartfelt, and ceaselessly creative. That’s not something that would befit a concept album about cheerful foliage, I thought to myself. I took it upon myself to define “Concordia”, as clearly there had to be something about the name to give me insight into the songs. As it turns out, “Concordia” means “harmony, with one heart”. Suddenly the heartfelt, pleasantly harmonious tunes of the album formed the neon sign I’d been missing. The band was “Happy Hollows,” and the album was “Concordia.” It all made sense now. With this new revelation in hand, I began my journey through Concordia again, this time really listening for this harmony with heart. And wielding this new tool, I unearthed a new world of treasure. Taking us into the brave new world of their third album, Happy Hollows debuts Concordia with Way Home, a fast paced, tight, and ethereal song, speaking of the desire to return to that which you came from and the longing for loved ones.
Track 2, entitled “On The Wave,” comes in with ambient, punctual, yet quiet synth bassline, bringing in calming guitar and drums, followed by the poised, reverb filled vocals of singer Sarah Negahdari. One of my favorite tracks off the album, On The Wave talks about accepting that sometimes life is scary, and it’s okay that we’re not in control. Further on, Feel The Moon takes a nod of nostalgia towards Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, with a modern rock and synth-backed seeming update and redirection of the classic track. Taking a new direction as well, though this track is clearly inspired by I Feel Love and perhaps even a little David Byrne, Happy Hollows brings out a more complex instrumental weave to the forefront and broaches the topic of fading love, as opposed to the feeling of love.
The next track after Feel The Moon, Astrid grabs you by the collar and takes you on a pleasant yet decidedly synthy adventure, talking of the cycle of love: journeys and endings, and of feelings of belonging. Concordia as a whole lies somewhere between Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense and Little Daylight's Hello Memory. It takes us on a melancholy journey through synthy pop-rock, with creative instrumentation lead by the quirky yet bold singer Sarah Negahdari, and unmistakably solid and present instrumentation of Charlie Mahoney. All in all, Happy Hollows’ Concordia will take your tired afternoons and turn them into cheerful evenings. Feeling a little quirky, this synth-punctuated, pop-rock album leads you on a melancholy journey of of bright, interesting instrumentation and nostalgic, avant-garde vocals with a healthy serving of intrigue.