The title of Her Space Holiday’s latest album, Home Is Where You Hang Yourself, sets listeners up to expect depressing music about reaching the lowest of low points in life. On one level, Her Space Holiday, a.k.a. Marc Bianchi, delivers exactly that; this is an album that delves into a person’s mind, revealing feelings of loneliness, fear, rejection, confusion and depression. Yet throughout there also is a solid dose of both musical and lyrical complexity, enough to make the CD riveting and entirely worthwhile.
The first track, the title song, pulls you right into the state of mind Bianchi takes on throughout the album, with the opening line “I don’t like the way that I’ve been / So unfeeling and full of sin.” But partway through there’s a turning point, an optimistic hook where Bianchi swears that he’ll be better and happier if the object of his affection would just give him a chance and let him know that she cares. This represents one of the reasons this record works so well: as sad as the singer sounds, there’s always more going on that just crying about how much life sucks. And each song is sung by Bianchi in a sweet, gentle voice which helps him express these serious emotions without being overly dramatic or self-obsessed.
On a few songs, Bianchi does dip into the sort of clichés that can come when dealing with such personal feelings, and there’s a song or two that sounds more like a shell than a fully developed song. Yet those flaws are overshadowed, not only by the strength of the songwriting elsewhere, but especially by what is the biggest strength of the album: its musical backdrops. The music throughout is a beautiful mix of light electronic beats and pop guitar, constructed in a low-key way that perfectly complements the mood of the songs.
The musical arranging side of Bianchi is pushed even further on the album’s bonus second disc, a collection of remixes Bianchi has done. It features not only her space holiday songs but also wonderful tracks from a disparate batch of talented indie pop and rock artists, including Aspera Ad Astra, Bright Eyes, Micromars and Mahogany. In many ways, the second disc is almost better than the first, for it’s here where Bianchi really shows off his knack at arranging musical tracks. As interesting and entertaining as the first disc is, here he doesn’t seem as compelled to retain a consistent mood of melancholy, and thus has created a variety of lush, absolutely gorgeous tracks. The strength of the songs he’s working with and the free, unique way he tackles the material make this the rarest of remix albums, one that is intellectually interesting and aesthetically pleasing. Some of the music here is familiar, but it sounds so new in Bianchi’s hands; that’s the mark of a truly creative individual, and Bianchi is one.