Published Feb 19, 2020Written in the forest surrounding Banff, AB, Matt Holubowski's Weird Ones is lit by a particular deep-woods glow. It's the kind that breaks unexpectedly through the crown of trees, that shines blinding white and deep gold in equal measure, that illuminates the elusive tones of the forest floor — the blues and yellows and reds, the colours that seem to flash in the periphery of vision.
Weird Ones is also a slyly modern record, a landscape touched by human hands — electric guitar, subtle synths and electronic flourishes slip in and out of the arrangements, adding a vaguely alien dimension to these bread-and-butter acoustic songs.
First single "Thoroughfare" is decorated by seasick guitar that spirals like drunken fireflies, while the waltzing "Down the Rabbit Hole" is awash in strings, as if winding across the seaside vista pictured on the record's cover — itself a modernist/naturalist deconstruction, vaguely evoking a vibrantly colour-blocked and reconfigured vision of Nick Drake's timeless Pink Moon cover.
However, unlike Drake's minimalist, low-fidelity journey of the spirit, Weird Ones finds freedom in the lush possibilities of the studio, with Holubowski dressing each song tastefully in echo and silvery soupçons of sound. The effect is both enchanting and slightly sedating, as each of these similarly paced songs seem built from a common blueprint — a foundation of guitar, drum and bass coloured by diaphanous production. The record is at its best when it shifts its feet slightly into new territory — the quickened pace of "Greener" and the faintly menacing throb of "Moon Rising" are welcome late-album highlights.
Weird Ones makes a case for expanding beyond comfort and into a new kind of light, of opening the window to new worlds. In his move beyond the more traditional folk of his previous work, Holubowski has uncovered new dimensions in his music, striking that delicate balance between songcraft and newfangled shimmer. (Audiogram)