Updated: Apr 28
Released in late March, Tyler Holmes’ latest album marks a departure from their previous works in terms of tone and aesthetic. Described as their first adult contemporary record, Nightmare in Paradise comes across as much quieter and emotive when compared to previous releases such as Nothing, which gives a much louder and forceful delivery. Despite this difference, Holmes’ distinctive style seems to shine through regardless.
Opening up with ”Heart Token,” I quickly got a view of what to expect from the album. A nearly ambient piece with an overdubbed vocal that makes use of unorthodox panning create one of the widest stereo effects that I have heard used on a vocal. At first, I thought this vocal was something unique to this track. However, as the album moves along, I began to notice that this is a motif among many of the other tracks, notably “Confuse Me” and “To Accept.” On some of the other tracks, the effect is still quite present yet a bit more tamed, such as “The Girl You Knew.“ Conversely, on “Eden,” Holmes takes the opportunity to turn this effect to its extreme with an opening vocal that sounds as though it is literally leaping from side to side while jumping up and down.
Instrumentally, Holmes’ voice seems to carry much of the album and much of the instruments are sparse throughout. However sparse, the underlying compositions seem to borrow so widely from other musical styles that it is almost impossible to accurately nail each influence down. For most of the time, there is nothing resembling percussion. However, “The Girl You Knew” is the sole track to break from the other tracks in this regard. Even so, the rhythm is only the most basic in this indie rock meets the abstract sounds present in the rest of the album
At times, the album resembles an extremely abstract version of pop music. However, the elements of harsher noise, floating ambient tones, and often arhythmic compositions keep this album from being written off.