Album Review: Drew Davies – Holloway Nights

The exciting UK artist’s atmospheric and creative rock sound feels more all-encompassing and powerful than ever on his sophomore album

Since the release of his stellar and aptly named return single ‘The Comeback’ in January 2023, we have been eagerly awaiting whatever project came next from Drew Davies, with subsequent singles building up hype and acclaim for the artist’s brand new sophomore LP Holloway Nights, a dark, atmospheric synth odyssey that highlights the artist’s potent blend of daring creativity and melodic euphoria.

The album kicks off another 2023 single, ‘The Bitter End’. A raucous and dynamic introduction to the album that feels both nostalgic and futuristic thanks to its neon-tinged glow and adrenaline-pumping energy. The track immediately showcases the intent of the album, embodying a pure rock n roll feel and approach that drags you along for the ride in emphatic style.

‘The Comeback’ follows, wrought with a brooding sense of darkness and nuance before exploding into life with cries of “freedom, you will know my name”. That line alone feels as exhilarating and liberating as anything that you’re likely to hear this year, evoking a feeling of catharsis and power that feels striking.

Modern dating goes under the microscope on ‘Codename: Softboi’, a track that laments the weird and often disappointing ways that the internet has transformed dating. The artist’s distinctive vocals really get a chance to shine and showcase their range here, ranging from the quietly spoken to the soaring in unpredictable and suitably engaging fashion.

The album delves into almost ballad territory on ‘You’re The Only One’, but this atmospheric, experimental spirit that is found throughout the EP keeps things feeling decidedly stylised and distinctive throughout the track, while the artist reaches some stirring emotional heights through his vocals and lyrics. The change of pace feels welcome though, and provides an alluring moment of respite from the artist’s intense and often chaotic sound.

The optimism and charm is abruptly followed by ‘Bad Girl’, a track that feels like a complete juxtaposition to what came before it. The soundscape grows as gritty and dark as ever, with grungy textures and jagged edges flooding the production and creating a seedy and uncomfortable environment. The layered vocals here and pointed lyrics do a great job of cementing this atmospheric triumph, continuing to highlight the uniqueness and guile of Drew Davies.

‘Holloway Nights’ follows and feels like as straight-laced rock and roll track as you’re going to get, complete with soaring vocals, engrossing riffs, and a rebellious, swaggering spirit. There is so much verve and groove to Drew’s melodic moments that it almost evokes the feeling of funk as much as it does rock, making for instantly memorable hooks and melodies that stick to you instantly. What really shines about Drew Davies and his work is how raw and authentic it feels, no matter how many warped electronics and nuances are added, you can feel the emotion and heart dripping from every word, and every note, and it truly elevates the artist’s already impressive work.

The sauntering bassline of ‘Heavy Manners’ follows, a track that has a post-punk jaunt to it, seemingly channelling the spirit of bands like Idles and Soft Play with its biting social commentary and bile-filled, almost spoken vocals. This track is packed full of fun moments and energy throughout, showcasing yet more of the artist’s range and appeal while never straying too far from his rock n roll roots.

Such an acerbic and scathing track is followed, in true, unpredictable Drew Davies fashion, by a heartbroken, love-sick anthem in the form of ‘Should Have Known Better’. The artist’s emotional vocals and heartfelt lyrics make for a relatable and resonating listen for many who will have found themselves in similar situations, whereas the quirky electronics that litter the soundscape keep our synth odyssey on track in entertaining fashion.

The album reaches a deserved climax in the form of ‘In The Name’, a track that seems to encapsulate a range of different facets of the artist’s sound and style and package them into an engrossing finale. The vocals cross the entire spectrum of what the artist has established here, with the track often taking intense and atmospheric left-turns to create something unexpected and riveting.

The album as a whole is packed full of charm and an abundance of ideas, and Drew does a great job of implementing them while always holding true to his sound and the DNA that characterises his work as his own. Drew describes the album as “a musical snapshot of my life over the past few years”, and this rings true with how impassioned, fleshed out and authentic his storytelling and songwriting feels. Holloway Nights is an album that feels like exactly what Drew Davies is supposed to be, and could well be looked back on as a defining moment for the artist.