Holding Absence has nothing to prove. Its self-titled debut album already solidified the trio as a mainstay in the post-hardcore scene, easing listeners with its hauntingly beautiful textures and front man Lucas Woodland’s absurd range.
It could’ve stopped right there. Instead, the band chose to prolong its legacy, releasing its sophomore full-length, The Greatest Mistake of My Life, which proves the group is physically unable to sidestep from the path of greatness it carved upon its genesis half a decade ago.
The album is not what the title makes it out to be. In fact, it’s a smear of perfection across a blank canvas, oozing with ethereal guitar riffs from Scott Carey, Woodland’s ridiculously flawless vocal execution that spews out pure poetry and a smattering of Ashley Green’s smooth drumming. They all seamlessly fuse to create an entrancing atmosphere that’s inexplicably moving. It’s just something you have to hear for yourself.
It’s hard to know where to start, too — because it’s all so good. The seven-minute “Mourning Song” finds Woodland putting to words the void in his life that has surfaced with the passing of his loved one. His fermata in the chorus is enough to make a grown man cry.
Even the three fillers — which all swarm around the 90-second mark — all unleash the aura of the next big piano ballad; if combined, they’d undoubtedly be on every radio channel, no matter which direction you’d turn the knob. There isn’t a flaw to be seen within the boundaries of this album, so grab your headphones, turn this album on and get ready to fly.
Here are the five best tracks from The Greatest Mistake of My Life:
5. “In Circles”
A subtle hum opens the track, but it’s quickly broken through by a set of eerie strums and repetitive drum pats. Woodland enters, getting right to it as he dispenses words we know all too well: the mundanity of the past year has caught up to him. As he erupts in the chorus with hard-hitting vocals, he reveals the only thing that takes his mind off the lifelessness he feels is looking at pictures of his loved ones who he can’t see right now. It’s gutting, especially since it fades out with a dreary guitar line and without Woodland seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
4. “Die Alone (In Your Lover’s Arms)”
Woodland’s sister, Caitlin, kicks off the track with a moment of spoken word, lamenting over how she wasted her time on someone who never truly reciprocated her feelings. As she lies on her metaphorical deathbed, she gushes with frustration while Lucas — playing her ex in the track — attempts to apologize without ever saying “sorry.” They both think they wasted each other’s time, and the track dissipates with a batch of snare rolls, overdue attempts at trying to make amends and a heap of tear-jerking emotion.
3. “Curse Me with Your Kiss”
A wave of aggressive guitars jolt listeners to life before Woodland’s rasp at the end of the intro causes them to faint from the beauty. He reveals right off the bat that he yearns to reach out to a former lover — because he doesn’t want to regret not pursuing something that could end well for both of them.
As he screams “I dream of you” in the chorus and drums accent his genuineness, you’ll find space between your feet and the ground. It’s that powerful that you’ll find yourself gently wafting away.
2. “Beyond Belief”
The intro feels like a breath of fresh air, exuding fresh guitar licks that are more stimulating than a steaming cup of coffee. Though he’s fearful of commitment, Woodland sees his future in his partner, and he’s decided it’s something worth taking a chance on.
A groovy bassline dances around his conflicting thoughts, but they clear away in the chorus, making way for a bundle of exuberance, feel-good vibes and an optimistic look into the days ahead that’ll engulf you in contentment.
1. “Celebration Song”
While the opening track, “Awake,” is full of Woodland’s melancholy whispers of feeling alive, it feels hardly sincere until it flows into the opening of “Celebration,” where he cathartically screams it. This is done intentionally to mark Woodland exiting the depressive state he never thought he’d be able to escape.
He looks in retrospect, acknowledging he’s surrendered a lot during this dark patch, but it doesn’t matter — because he’s made it to today, further than he ever thought he’d get. It’s easy to forget there are sonic elements here, too, even though they're just as gorgeous as Woodland’s vocal delivery. The track is as breathtaking as it is purgative, and it’s the best on The Greatest Mistake of My Life.