The Hole Punch Generation: The Hole Punch Generation

Together for five years, the Boston-based The Hole Punch Generation delivers on its self-titled album an intense shoegaze pop sound that draws upon the melodicism of a band like Coldplay and the impassioned attack of groups like Radiohead and Arcade Fire. Delivered in an plaintive plea, the opening song “Don't Go” establishes an emotive shoegaze template that the album's subsequent eleven songs will largely follow: soaring vocal melodies presented in rich, multi-layered harmonies with Patrick Balthrop's falsetto voice and beehive electric guitar playing out front and bassist Caleb Epps and drummer Adam Sturtevant not far behind. Each song comes across as an impassioned outpouring of one kind or another, and the trio fleshes out its core sound with analog synthesizer flourishes, electronics, toy pianos, strings, and an occasional injection of field recordings.

Moods range from euphoric (e.g., “The Morning After,” powered by Sturtevant's post-punk drive) to melancholy, even sorrowful (“Shallow,” “Conversations”), and the songs' lyrical content concerns the usual life issues of love and loss, but as with much shoegaze music the words are a secondary concern to the music's sonic punch. Changing things up halfway through, “Reprise” revisits the opening song as a brief drumless exercise that spotlights the strong impact the group's vocal delivery can have when heard all by itself. While the group isn't averse to using advanced production methods (SuperCollider, Max/MSP, and Reaktor are cited) in crafting its material, The Hole Punch Generation is a song-based band first and foremost that doesn't lose sight of its words-and-music foundation; that the album's dozen songs weigh in at forty-one minutes speaks to the group's adherence to song lengths that hew closely to a three-minute average.

February 2011