If it all ended for Holy Holy tomorrow, their legacy would already be cemented. Look at what’s been achieved so far: there are gold and platinum records up on their walls, there are songs littered throughout recent Hottest 100 history, there are a countless run of sold-out shows in the books and there are four studio albums that have all reached the upper echelon of the ARIA album charts, landing this long-distance musical love affair between singer Timothy Carroll and guitarist/producer Oscar Dawson in prestigious company. Needless to say, things have escalated slightly since the pair met as teenagers whilst volunteering in Thailand, first clocking one another from across the room in a busy restaurant after noticing they each had a guitar in hand.
From their early indie-rock days to their latter-day widescreen expansion into dance-driven anthems, Holy Holy have done it all… at least, seemingly so. Perhaps, then, that is exactly why Holy Holy are such an exciting prospect: with every release, they are simultaneously broadening their horizons and subsequently adding to their living, breathing legacy within 21st century Australian music. If their fifth album Cellophane has anything to say about it, Holy Holy are far from finished.
Although the band’s latest offering is no less ambitious than studio albums in their back catalogue, both members of Holy Holy are quick to note that Cellophane is the sound of the duo shedding their inhibitions and alleviating themselves of the weight of expectation. If 2021’s Hello My Beautiful World was Holy Holy running forth into the great unknown, Cellophane is a free-fall. “In the past, this band has had a really considered approach,” says Carroll. “This time, I feel like Oscar and I have made an album where each song is really allowed to be exactly what it wants to be. We didn’t force anything. I was really excited about the idea of letting go of being concerned of what other people would think, and really just trusting ourselves.” Dawson agrees: “Music can be counter-intuitive sometimes,” he muses. “Sometimes when you don’t work as hard, better stuff happens because of it. A lot of this album is frictionless, and that’s where the magic is.”
For those that first heard Holy Holy in their guitar-driven and folk-oriented early days, the sound of Cellophane might come as a shock to the system. It is the farthest the duo have strayed from their origins yet, full of AutoTune-driven vocal runs and an electric undercurrent that surges through each blood-pumping cut. But for Carroll and Dawson, Cellophane is less about pop and more about a different P-word: Perspective. “Cellophane is brightly-coloured plastic, and in one sense it’s basically just throwaway crap,” says Dawson. “At the same time, though, when you hold it up to a light it can actually be kind of beautiful. For us, naming the record after it was about the juxtaposition between music that’s organic and grounded in emotion and music that’s computer-generated and danceable.”