Holiday Life, the second album from New York City’s Ravens and Chimes, is a collection of fun indie-pop songs. This is almost a textbook example of how to do this type of music the right way. The band balances their arrangements between guitar, piano and drums, with the bass and keyboards (yes, they have keyboards in addition to the piano) almost strictly in supporting roles.
Album opener and first single “Division Street” starts quietly with piano and gentle vocals from lead singer-guitarist Asher Lack, and gradually swells without ever quite opening up all the way. Drummer Mike Riddleberger’s creative, loose beats make the whole song sound easygoing. In fact, Riddleberger’s open, improvisatory style goes a long way toward making the album fun and breezy. When the band does open up and go for it, like on “Clarissa Explains it All”, they invite positive comparisons to a band like the New Pornographers. Lack has a quiet mid-range voice that’s well-suited for this type of unassuming material, and he’s complemented ably by pianist Rebecca Rossi’s harmony and backing vocals. Of course, the downside of being described as “textbook” is the implication that there isn’t much that’s fresh or groundbreaking to be found on Holiday Life. While this is indeed the case, there’s a lot to be said for a band that does strong material in their chosen genre.