The following was originally published on Exclaim.ca.
The Happy Hollows
By Jessica Lewis
For a debut release, it’s hard not to fall under the Happy Hollows’ Spells. The strong opening track, “Faces,” constructs a world of suspense and elation, and is damn catchy, setting the bar high. But once that feeling subsides, getting into the rest of the album isn’t hard. It’s a good thing producer David Newton stuck around after the Imaginary EP; he’s kept the Hollows’ sound messy but contained. Front-woman Sarah Negahdari gives Spells the feeling of a fuzzy, erratic spree, but it’s the rhythms of Charles Mahoney and Chris Hernandez that drive the tempos from toe tapping to arm flailing. Tracks such as “We Will Find You” come dangerously close to another California-based band of cute beat dealers ― Deerhoof ― but they’re quickly redeemed with “Lieutenant,” which showcases the band as a whole, and “Tambourine,” which keeps the rock hot and the roll cool. However, there are some tracks that should have been left behind, including “Delorean,” which sounds forced. The Happy Hollows are indeed bubbly, witty and a good listen. Spells not only fulfils but also leaves room for improvement. (Independent)