Julia Holter
Have You In My Wilderness


2.5
average

Review

by Johnny[Well] STAFF
April 15th, 2020 | 66 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Wild artistic fridge pop

Before she joined the ranks of very intrepid pop artists questing intrepidly for the evasive Rainy Day Masterpiece, Julia Holter released a good album. The album’s name was Loud City Song. People described it “Lynchian”. Some of them were probably the same people who described albums like Amon Tobin’s Permutation, Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts VI: Locusts and Bohren & der Club of Gore’s Sunset Mission as “Lynchian.” Who knows. I’m sure they know what they’re doing. In any case, what was interesting about Loud City Song - and not in the very uninteresting sense of the usual air-quotes Quirky Holterisms - was that it evoked a sense of the city space as oppressive and alienating just as much as it positioned Holter’s voice as distinct and, without seeming overly self-cultivated (hi there, Aviary), ‘alien’ by virtue of very different qualities. The invocation of a strange and disconcerting site was matched by the equally enigmatic yet delicately personable manner of its articulation. It felt wonderfully cohesive in how Holter blurred the lines between being a cool force of observation and an anxious product of the space she sought to represent. A Strange Lady In A Strange Town: there you go, Loud City Song can hold its own with the best of Buzzfeed. Not that the darkness and ambiguity surrounding cities is a remotely original theme (don’t you dare reach for the phrase ‘urban jungle’), but Holter walked the walk, addressing it in her own terms with a genuine sense of wonder, tension and mystery. At points it was outright beautiful - good for her! Even better, it came with a logical next step attached: graduating from hints of urban wilderness and soaring into more expansive hinterland territory. Great. Let’s get lost with Julia Holter...

Welcome to Julia Holter’s Desert Island

For those who arrived safely - those Pitchfork reviews and legacy claims can be tough to get through! - welcome! You’ve potentially sacrificed a fair amount to be here; there’s an awful lot of other things you could be doing with 47 whole minutes of your life (see the Recommended Albums tab). Unlike the proprietor of this establishment, may sunlight shine upon her, I won’t sugarcoat things. There’s, uh, a big catch. Remember the wonder and gripping ambiguity that made Loud City Song so great? Um, yeah. None of that here! Instead, Holter Hotels Ltd. offers us a savoury experience of cutting edge ArtPop, airless for your convenience and recently reheated from the furthest depths of their very finest refrigerator. It’s dreary as anything. The stakes are almost nowhere to be found. It’s like Ms. Julia signed for a quest into the unknown but never made it out of the tutorial level. Almost (we’ll get to that!) none of these tracks feel remotely entranced by the possibility of stepping out of their comfort zone, and so they skirt the uncertainty and wanderlust that should be part and parcel for anything that muses on wilderness or frontier themes, whether personal or literal. Nowhere is this more obvious than opener “Feel You”, which relegates Holter’s trademark vocal inflections from an unpredictable vehicle of intrigue to a dull accentuator of dull melodies, but it also creeps into stronger, more ambitious cuts such as “Vasquez”, which goes through the motions of downtempo and spoken word like it’s crossing off items on a shopping list, a leftover Laika track repurposed for minorly more exotic ends. The tiresome “Sea Calls Me Home” drags its both of its left feet in a bland mockery of all things twee romanticism, though with a lovely sax solo to raise the tone, and the admittedly beautiful “Lucette Stranded On The Island” (a clear highlight) feels a little clinical in its near-mesmeric call-and-response.

All things considered, Have You In My Wilderness would be more accurately titled Julia Holter’s Wilderness Is A Plush Hotel With Above Average Air Conditioning On An Implausibly Aesthetic Desert Island So Please Come And Stay For As Long As You Care To (And No, You Can’t Go Outside). Imagine if Mr. Incredible got to Syndrome’s island only to live the rest of the film within his imagination while staring out of his bedroom window. This is not an interesting window. We see this window once and once only, the first time he visits the room. The reasoning for this twofold: firstly, so that the film’s young audience never had to witness the state of the room after he was done getting it on with Mirage (the producers settled for turning his superhero moonlighting into a not-so-subtle metaphor for the affair that obviously takes place - I mean, what would any washed up American family man do in his position… (for what it’s worth, I bet there’s quality fan art out there somewhere)). The other reason is that the window is boring. This is the primary point of difference between Mr. Incredible and Julia Holter. In Mr. Incredible’s position, Julia Holter would have taken a good feature-length look out of that window and daydreamed up an album, all while lightly clutching a picturesque glass of picturesque lemonade kept cool by the temperature of her hand and the strength of her vision. Articles aplenty have likely been written about that lemonade, and my intuition tells me it has yet to be consumed after all these years. Odds are it will remain as such until the likes of "Silhouette" and "How Long?" materialise from the realm of eggshell wallpapered waiting room purgatory they seem tailor-made for. Don’t count your chickens...

The album’s silver lining renders that phrase - silver lining - as chronologically apt as anyone could hope for; the final minute is nigh-on stunning, finally seeming to flesh out the tone and aesthetic teased by the previous forty-six minutes’ stronger moments ("Night Song", "Lucette…"). The title track in general is so spellbindingly executed that it *almost* vindicates the approach taken by its predecessors and *almost* incentivises an ill-considered lunge for the replay button. Don’t do it!!! This album’s only real magic trick is in how that song reduces a forty-seven minute experience to two-hundred-and-seventeen compact seconds, far more considerate for your timetable but not quite the same when it comes to Best Of [Time Period] list fodder. Karma’s a bitch, though; this time compression schtick ultimately backfired into the unending swathes of nowhere-scape that Holter subsequently spewed into existence on Aviary...but that’s a story for another rainy day.




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user ratings (439)
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
SgtPepper EMERITUS (4.4)
"oh she's been marooned, can anybody help her?"...

Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (3)
The underside of awaiting dreams....

neekafat CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
desert island disc...

TyYamamoto (5)
“I can’t remember the words to say”...


Comments:Add a Comment 
neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2020


19814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

who the fuck is Johnny[Well]

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2020


12757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

frigid pop

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2020


4185 Comments


what's all this then

JustJoe.
April 15th 2020


9242 Comments


what is happening

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2020


27105 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

frozen

Thank you Milo for suggesting we do this one - you'd better be happy ;] Suggestions for next groupwrite are welcome !

Digging: Boris - Urban Dance

JustJoe.
April 15th 2020


9242 Comments


was the deadline for our julia holter review today

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2020


19814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

better hurry up *checks watch*

Lord(e)Po)))ts
April 15th 2020


57539 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

three reviews in a row and yall still can't manage to get the rating right



at least johnny was close

Digging: HellHammer - Apocalyptic Raids

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2020


12757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

don't fuck with that rating incline on the front page but

JustJoe.
April 15th 2020


9242 Comments


🥶

Tyler.
April 15th 2020


18010 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

what is your favorite recipe to cook at home

brainmelter
April 15th 2020


7101 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

why

Digging: The Angels of Light & Akron/Family - Akron/Family & Angels of Light

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2020


27105 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

big lasagna what's urs

JustJoe.
April 15th 2020


9242 Comments


next person has to review it a 1.5 - 1.0

JustJoe.
April 15th 2020


9242 Comments


looks like you’re up potsy

rabidfish
April 15th 2020


6041 Comments


curious to know your take on the weyes blood album that everyone loved, Jhon

Digging: Minnie Riperton - Come To My Garden

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2020


12757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Just waiting for Milo to see what he has done

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2020


27105 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"curious to know your take on the weyes blood album that everyone loved, Jhon"

Lol plz can this not be the next round, I'm done spreading salt for the time being ;] That album's ok, opener is a 10/10, the rest ranges from pretty good to fairly listless. Think I have it 3'd, defs rate it above this.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2020


19814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This review is wrong but very great, kudos (:

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2020


716 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well golly, a ruthless opinion i respectfully disagree with delivered with a side of speculation of adultery by the infallible Mr. Incredible. It's everything thing I could've asked for plus two more reviews! What have you all done?!



Well, I'm supposed to be working, but I'm excited to get through these.



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