As you listen to the joyful debut from the singular young ladies of Hollows, you might recognize the wistful harmonies and classy charm of the Shangri-Las, the propulsive rhythms of vintage surf rock, the hormonal crunch of the best ‘60s garage psychedelia, and the bristling smarts of the Raincoats. Hollows may be firmly rooted in Chicago’s DIY punk scene, but they effortlessly layer genre over genre, continually distinguishing themselves on this brisk, fun-loving ear-grabber of an album.
Organist Maria Jenkins lends this music a unique funhouse verve, elevating the drive-in horror-flick throwback “Shadows in the Dark” to pop art. Guitarist Meg Kasten careens from spry jangle to ominous distortion and sneering feedback. Bassist Emma Hospelhorn anchors the low end while adding nuanced girl-group harmonies to Maria’s lead vocal lines. Hollows have serious skills, and they also have imagination to spare. Their debut ranges from the post-punk lash-out “Mary Goes to Law School” to the C&W shuffle of “Muncie, IN” to a glorious cover of “Watch Out Sally,” made famous by 60s songstress Diane Renay.
Despite its captivating harmonies and hooks and its pervasive sense of freewheeling fun, Hollows goes to some dark places. “Johnny Appleseed” portrays confused young people and their hopeless relationships. In its haze of distortion, the choppy rocker “Do the Scarecrow” celebrates a lover’s angst and paranoia. (“What else can I do / To keep those birds away from you.”) For a few seconds, even the blissful, shape-shifting pop tune “Love Will Find You” collapses into a fit of maniacal laughter.
In just 30 minutes, this debut from one of Chicago’s most intriguing new bands delivers a catchy, mesmerizing, and deliriously twisted good time