If Holly Holden Y Su Banda captivated you with their 2017 EP Tropical Soul, their debut full-length album is sure to be a winner. Bringing back the unique Spanglish sounds they have become known for, Green Guava creates a soundtrack covering a decade of amorous and musical exploration. The 12 love songs on the album take you on a journey of celebration and heartache wrapped up in tropical escapism.
While Holly Holden (vocals, bass) comes from London, she has always had a tropical soul. Together with Frank Fullstop (guitar) and David Beauchamp (drums), her love affair with South America and its music has found its own voice. Taking inspiration from different regions, she moulds her music into something extraordinary.
The title track ‘Green Guava’ uses metaphors and a hypnotising melody to get you into the album. The emotion behind the metaphor of a love that never was is clear through each word. The swinging vocal performance that moves smoothly from Spanish to English is a joy to listen to. There is something raw about Holden’s performance in both languages that grips you and lets the message of the song shine through.
There is a faster beat to ‘Hello Platonia’ as the track loses some of the lush sounds that made the opening song. However, this song is funkier and has a beat that does not stop. You are easily transported to a tropical paradise and the first moments of attraction to another person. The faster pace of the vocal performance is executed in a way that you can’t help but engage with. The track does lack the swings between language, but that does not make it lesser than the other tracks.
‘To Lose’ gives you another side of the band as you are taken on a darker journey. This song has a sultry tone to it but keeps the tropical edge to the notes. The arrangement of this song shines a bit more light on the instruments as there are these captivating riffs and lines. The lyrics are full of imagery and are so catchy that you can’t help but sing along to them.
Swinging back into melding Spanish and English, ‘Tú Llorarás’ grabs your attention with a Spanish opening. The beat of this track is infectious and you will be moving your head to it before you realise. Holden’s vocals rise and fall on this track in an enthralling way that draws you into the emotions this anti-love song. This track also has some really driving moments in the melody that are extremely fun.
‘H.I.M’ departs completely from the fast and fun atmosphere created by the first tracks of the album. This is a slower song that has a sensual tone to it but uses a stripped back melody to achieve this. You can hear a bit of the tropical elements the band is known for at times, but overall there is something very different about this song.
The plucky beat is back in ‘José Martí’ but you are not drawn into a melody that makes you move. There is something slower and more laid-back about this track. Holden’s vocals also soar during the Spanish sections of this song while the electric guitar lines make you want to close your eyes and soak it all up.
The next track ‘Canción Imparable’ really transports you to South America with its melody. This continues with the Spanish lyrics and performance that you have to move to. This song insinuates itself under your skin to get you hooked and will not let you go. This is the first track on the album that is completely in Spanish, but there is something about it that makes you forget about whether or not you understand the lyrics.
The electric guitar opening of ‘Don’t Jump’ leads you to Holden’s light vocal performance. There is a lightness to this track that is airy and enjoyable. While the melody gives you this vibe, there are moments when the lyrics are at odds with this. The interplay on this track makes it extremely interesting and a lot of fun to listen to.
The sweet and summery tones of ‘Santiago’ have a light reggae flavour to it. The melody offers a light, smooth tone with a great guitar beat. There is an easiness to this song that you can relax to. You can also imagine listening to this song while relaxing in the sun with a warm drink.
‘Never Or Now’ has a very interesting arrangement with these beats that gently drive through your chest. There is also something jazzy about this track that makes it a pleasure to listen to. Holden’s vocals flow gently over you and have an airy quality to them. They then howl over you in the most pleasant way.
Taking a pure pop turn, ‘I Can’t See’ is playful and minimalist compared to the others on the album. This pared-back song is very catchy as it looks at what it feels like to be afraid to fall in love. While this song is very enjoyable, it only carries minimal elements from the rest of the album. It takes you away from the tropical escapism that epitomises this album.
The last track on the album is ‘Palomita’ which is quite short and uses a progressive opening. The guitar tones on this track slowly build while the beat of the drum drives through you. This is a completely instrumental track which ends the album is a fun way. It also showcases the abilities of the band and has an abrupt ending that you really don’t expect.
Holly Holden Y Su Banda takes you on a musical road trip through South America with the tropical flavours of Green Guava. While the album is packed full of love songs, each one is so distinctive that you don’t get tired. The swings between Spanish and English are so smooth and the band is captivating.