Common Holly
When I say to you Black Lightning


4.5
superb

Review

by neekafat CONTRIBUTOR (58 Reviews)
October 24th, 2019 | 52 replies


Release Date: 10/18/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: say it again

Born out of a flurry of up-and-coming singer-songwriter folk artists, I suppose it’s no wonder why Common Holly has yet to hit her destined mark. But with each album Brigitte Naggar releases under her new moniker, she proves to be a master of her craft, throwing punches and writing songs like the best of them with a confidence that will surely propel her to the mainstream of the genre.

Naggar has the potential to stand out from the rest thanks to a wide range of influences that make her music more unpredictable and exciting than the majority of her contemporaries. While her previous record was more in line with straightforward indie-folk stylings, Black Lightning puts more of a focus on hypnotic atmospheres and flowing, glowing climaxes. Each song starts in a way that’s both unnerving and inviting, and then blossoms into something truly breathtaking. Her jittery guitarwork is reminiscent of the Smashing Pumpkins at their weirdest, with riffs squirming through the listener's mind in ways unexpected. When psychedelic influences merge with one of Naggar’s soaring vocal melodies, such as in the outro of “You Dance,” that’s where the album hits pure gold.

While her pipes aren’t quite as breathtaking as say, Julien Baker, the way she flits around a melody or a riff is engrossing in a wholly different manner. On “Uuu” she entrances with her guitar, snake-charming the audience as the song skyrockets into a threatening world that you still will never want to leave. The expressionist leanings of the record root themselves into the lyrics as well, some phrases and words seem pointedly placed to deliver a specific effect in the audience rather than to “make sense.” They captivate the listener from moment to moment, and when leering from a distance, their strangeness only serves to remind just how enveloped in the moment you were when you heard them.

That isn't to say that the album is without fault; ending on a tune like the cold-hot "Crazy OK" is one of the more obvious decisions here, with the previous track leaning the audience into a wistful slumber before they're whacked over the head with a predictable "gotcha!" moment as the closer reaches its half-way mark. The repetition and sudden aggression of the song are admirable, but as the final flavor of the piece, it's more disappointing when everything before feels far riskier.

But if you take all of these elements and combine it with some of the best, most ethereal production I’ve heard on a record like this, then you have an astounding work of psychedelic folk-rock. On this album, Naggar has found herself a sound that will, if there’s anyone up there, catapult her to the indie god status that she deserves. It’s a sound that is yes, sinister, but also surprisingly warm and inviting. “Black Lightning” is just the thing to say about it.



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user ratings (30)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2019


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

go easy on me, it's been a while since I've typed one of these up but I love this so



"You Dance": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o7XNOm9raQ

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2019


8743 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

#Neeka4Contrib

Digging: Liturgy - H.A.Q.Q.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2019


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

#NeekaISContrib >:c

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2019


3501 Comments


neg

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2019


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

check this you sexual deviant

brainmelter
October 24th 2019


6696 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hell yea

Digging: Child Abuse - Imaginary Enemy

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2019


10634 Comments


Album art is black metal band got lost in the forest tier.

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2019


17563 Comments


wild neekafat appeared aaah

Digging: Hakushi Hasegawa - Air Ni Ni

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
October 24th 2019


3099 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Some missing words:

-- "it’s no wonder why Common Holly has yet _______ her destined mark"

-- "potential to stand out from the rest of her _____ thanks to a wide range"

-- "as the song skyrockets into ____ threatening world that"

-- not too sure "pulling punches" is the right phrase, it's usually a bad thing, i.e. to hold back

Also, aaa, if I'm honest, I'm becoming less and less convinced of the utility of the "female singer-songwriter folk" and "sadgirl indie" labels -- they really tell you nothing about the artists or their stylings. Really, this sounds very little like Julien Baker or Phoebe Bridgers (who, IMO, don't have all that much in common in the first place, barring the boygenius connection). I know we like to categorise artists for the better, but I think in cases like this it's a bit reductive, especially when parts of the album are as, as you say, reminiscent of Smashing Pumpkins. Folk influence also varies so much between those that fall into the so-called genre, which I think might be sput-talk for attractive female with acoustic guitar now.

That said, I'm just happy to see a neeka review. :333

Digging: Keaton Henson - Six Lethargies

luci
October 24th 2019


11970 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"up-and-coming female singer-songwriter folk artists" cut out a word or two to make this more readable

I agree with Blush's qualm, I'd cut "female" out

going into 2020 the site needs to stop treating "female" like a subgenre lol

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2019


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You both are right, ashamed to be caught so regressive in my phrasing here

Thanks for the feedback blush, I guess I'm a bit rusty atm :3

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2019


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Made some edits, toned down some of the typifying in the language

I guess my biggest thing about the "sadgirl indie" genre is that even though it's not a very convincing label, for some reason I just like everything in the non-genre so damn bunch, which makes me instinctively want to label it

I'd say my biggest problem with this review though is that I've written like 5 of these with the same goddamn thesis

foxblood
October 24th 2019


10168 Comments


When I say to you Black Metal

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 24th 2019


32734 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

I'm guilty of the whole "female" description too, it's something I did when I was a new writer here and sometimes I still catch myself saying it as if it adds anything to the description.



Good job on the review as a whole though, I keep forgetting this came out and have been meaning to dive in.

Digging: Low Roar - ross.

Ashtiel
October 24th 2019


809 Comments


I haven't listened to this yet but really glad to see Common Holly finally getting some love. Playing House is great.

Digging: Norma Jean - All Hail

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2019


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Sowing, I appreciate it (:

Yes Ash, she is so so good

dmathias52
October 24th 2019


1043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love this album and love to see it get a review, especially from you Neeka!

The female descriptor is an interesting thing, as we try to figure out how to shed this gender binary and roles they impose. However, there's also the struggle in making sure to mention that the female voice is a really large part of what makes this album (and many others in this non-subgenre) important. Both the experiences of the women who make it, as well as just the sound of their voice, does make a large impact on the music. I think "female singer-songwriter" or "sadgirl indie" isn't the way to go for sure, but I also think there's a balance to acknowledge the gender and what implications they may have on the subject/sound of the music.

Digging: Keaton Henson - Six Lethargies

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2019


8743 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Well-put

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2019


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks dmath (:

Agreed for sure, I'm at least glad my blunder is generating some good discussion here hahaha

clavier
Staff Reviewer
October 24th 2019


1066 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6

having read through the lyrics of this album (as someone who will *eventually* get to writing on this), i'm not tempted to make a big-f Feminist interpretation of it; certainly, there are some aspects which touch upon or allude to uniquely female experiences (and i absolutely do not wish to depoliticize), but it gets tiring when a lot of the other, arguably more important themes get set aside for a surface-level "role of women in music" discussion



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