Listening to Holy Weather, the sophomore release from South African indie rockers Civil Twilight, it’s simply impossible not to draw direct comparisons to U2 and Radiohead. In fact, if U2 and Radiohead had an arm-wrestling match and U2 won, this is kind of what the recording might sound like.
As it turns out, I like U2. And let’s just say I respect Radiohead. So while the critics are likely to slam Civil Twilight for not being original enough, I happen to enjoy this record.
Putting comparisons to the side for a moment, the record stands up well on its own. It’s a well-put-together collection of songs that each have a distinct quality and sound. The opener, “The River,” is catchy, straight indie-rock, while the next track “Holy Weather” successfully blends acoustic guitar riffs with danceable electronic drum loops and synth tracks. “It’s Over” is a haunting ballad overlaid with atmospheric guitar effects, and provides a nice switch from the driving rhythms of earlier tracks. The whole album is diverse, an excellent listening experience in and of itself.
The biggest problem, it seems, is that Civil Twilight reminds us too much of other bands—and not just any bands: two of the biggest bands in rock. I understand why that could pose a problem for these guys, because anytime they aren’t accused of being copycats, they will simply be compared to bands with years more experience and success, instead of being compared to other bands that have only put out two records. In their defense, while I can see why maybe Civil Twilight should explore other musical territory and try to establish their own identity—there’s only going to be so much lead vocalist Steven McKellar can do to not sound like Bono. His voice is his voice, after all.
So what I’m saying is that while the comparisons are unfortunate for the band, it is not so much a defect on their part. If you just listen to Holy Weather for the record it is—and Civil Twilight for the band they are—you’ll hopefully recognize that this is a band that deserves to be heard.
ALBUM RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
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Posted in: Indie/Alternative Music