A social media post said “This Was Holding Absence”, and Holding Absence fans were suddenly thrust into unravelling a mystery. Social media accounts of the band were wiped of content at the same time. “Was”? Were they breaking up? Surely not. What was the deal?!
The Greatest Mistake Of My Life was then given as another clue, with old-time footage interwoven with moments from Holding Absence videos shared over several days. They formed a countdown! A song by Gracie Fields of the same name was unearthed, with no obvious connection to speak of.
Finally, we were given “Beyond Belief”! A new single, the first from Holding Absence’s upcoming second album – The Greatest Mistake Of My Life – which releases on 16th April, 2021. And suddenly it all became clear: The Holding Absence that ‘was’, the stoic and monochromatic crew, were becoming something else. The announcement and single showed that our beloved caterpillar was revealing her wings, now in living colour.
When speaking about the new album with Rock Sound, vocalist Lucas Woodland revealed the inspiration of the album title, and how Gracie Fields came into the picture. Lucas had given his Nan a copy of the Holding Absence vinyl, and she’d then spoken about how Lucas’ great uncle had recorded to vinyl a cover of the Gracie Fields song, “The Greatest Mistake Of My Life”.
Enamoured with the song’s title, as well as the line “The greatest mistake of my life was saying goodbye to you”, Lucas’ feeling was that the sentiment of love and regret was very resonant with what Holding Absence were about; saying “I genuinely could have written that lyric.” Taking this coincidental seed of an idea and its resonance, the second album formed.
“You’ve got infinity and you offer it to me”
So “Beyond Belief” is clearly a different sound for the band. And maybe it’s just me, but this iteration of Holding Absence seems so fluid and natural, that you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s how they’ve always been. We’ve heard some elements of lighter sounds from the band before today, such as in “Like A Shadow”, and it seems they’ve opted to chase more of that. It works.
Despite florals, stripes, colours, and a delectable upbeat nature, the same earnest and poetic expression is here, as are the timeless metaphors. The Welsh collective’s choice to explore an untrodden path just feels like a natural one in the process of evolving as musicians. It’s a pleasure to hear contribution to vocals by Scott Carey (guitarist) and James Joseph (bassist) on “Beyond Belief”, along with the atmospheric synth and retro flavoured sounds on this track (I’m reminded of Angels & Airwaves with the choruses).
Thematically, “Beyond Belief” captures the uncertainty and lack of guarantees when it comes to the idea of ‘forever’ when it comes to love. From the music video description, “The fear of loving somebody for eternity can be scary when you don’t truly know what their definition of “forever” truly is. This song is about throwing aside that fear, in the name of love.” This is beautifully demonstrated in the Lewis Cater music video, with tentative connection expressed through a romanticisation of space and time.
The protagonist – allergic to love – has been lifted and lightened by a special person in their life, bringing them to this point of deciding if to commit to this love or not. The catastrophising ‘what if’s have them paralysed, until we hit a turning point at the bridge; where surrendering to love, even if it kills them, is powerfully and beautifully expressed. [That’s code for: “I tear up every time.”] The phrase “beyond belief” is used to describe their thought process as well as the impressiveness of their lover.
I’m absolutely stoked for this new chapter of Holding Absence, having been captivated since “Penance”, and still today. As well as being able to stream “Beyond Belief” everywhere now and watch the music video below, The Greatest Mistake Of My Life is available for pre-order, with some impressive bundles right HERE.