Alt-Americana rockers clear the left?eld wall on second at-bat
Gainesville, Fla.’s wickedly underrated Holopaw released its self-titled debut on Sub Pop in early 2003;
led by vocalist/songwriter John Orth (also of Isaac Brock side project Ugly Cassanova), Holopaw left plenty wondering how something so intricately orchestrated could feel so light and fragile, all wisp and ?ash. On first listen, Quit +/or Fight
sounds like a digression from the band’s trademark mix of grainy strums and electronic blubbers, but the record is still more of an evolution than a departure. Snippets of found poetry, broken furniture, warm acoustic guitar, blank space and heavily nuanced synths coalesce into a spare, breathtaking whole that’s slightly less instant and melodic than its predecessor, but ultimately just as satisfying.
The spectacular “Curious” sees Orth curling into a throaty falsetto, gently cooing stories over a mess of guitar, synthesizers and unnamed noisemakers; “3-shy-cubs” steers bossanova rhythms into majestic guitar swells (complete with an unexpected—but entirely welcome—bit of electric-guitar noodling). “Ghosties” hits closest to Holopaw’s older work, opening with a smattering of piano and muted, basketball-dribble drums, before giving way to layered vocals, guitar and a hushed call-and-response chorus. Like Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Quit +/or Fight flirts with perfection, a cohesive collection of all-too-fleeting pleasures.