Premiering via BBC Radio 1, Welsh virtuosos Holding Absence have released new single “Like a Shadow”, along with a music video. For Holding Absence obsessives (hi! hello!), this is akin to Christmas, and is a beautiful gift that keeps on giving with every listen. For the unfamiliar, it’s yet another opportunity to discover this band with an impeccable record of making great music.
The last we heard from Holding Absence was when they joined forces with Sharptone Records label mates Loathe and released split EP This Is As One. Since then it seems like the band have been challenged and stretched in more ways than one; working hard on new music behind the scenes, consistently touring/playing gigs, as well as going through line-up shifts. With the reveal of “Like a Shadow” and the band’s new line-up, it feels like a solidification and unification of Holding Absence, which now features Lucas Woodland (vocals), James Joseph (bass), Ashley Green (drums), Scott Carey (guitar), and Chris Smitheram (guitar).
From initial impressions, “Like a Shadow” was not what I had expected at all. Its lilting sing-song of a chorus had seemed a world away from the dense and lengthy epic of “Penance”, and majestic slow build of “Everything”. Regardless, the new offering set up camp in my memory and repeat listens were a given, and I became easily hooked on the driving pace of the track’s verses, the expansive searching of the choruses, and the ripples of ‘stay a little longer’. I also loved the stand-out bass which showed up at the second verse.
“Pitch black sunshine.
You waste up all my daylight
and I’m so tired.”
With “Like a Shadow”, Holding Absence seem to paint a story where infatuation and unconditional adoration turns stale, and a determination to “stick around and we’ll see this through” evolves into something damaging. As the track goes on, this situation seems to worsen: The protagonist has placed themselves in a situation devoid of happiness, and is only starting to realise the pattern of romantic poverty that they’re existing within, blinded by loving the idea of love.
Despite the appeal to hold onto this lover – no matter the darkness that it entails – the song focuses our attention upon the lover’s farewell; perhaps now all that remains of them. As I’ve found with all Holding Absence’s songs so far, their lyrical honesty is deftly veiled by poeticism. Their lyrics take time to settle in and unfold, making for songs that listeners can explore in a way that resonates with them personally. Having sat with the song for some time, I feel it to relate to struggling to let go of someone, regardless of the negative impact the person had upon them. It’s relatable subject matter for those who enjoy the hobby of romanticising the potential instead of truly facing reality.
Portrayed stunningly in their signature black and white aesthetic, we’re shown imagery of a love that is ultimately destroyed, despite its gentle beauty. We also get to see Holding Absence in full flight as a band, something that non-European fans of the band appreciate endlessly! From calm honesty at the bridge through to Lucas’ vocal strength of emotional frustration of the final chorus, “Like a Shadow” inspires empathy toward those whose quest for love (which we heard in “Everything”) leads them to undesirable situations.
Watch “Like a Shadow” below, and also find it at your usual streaming places. There’s no details shared as yet relating to a full release, but we are ready for that whenever Holding Absence are!
Holding Absence photo courtesy of Bethan Miller.