21-year-old electro-pop artist Holander is rooting herself firmly amongst her socially conscious millennial peers. Her bio boasts, ‘Holander focuses her music on empowering herself and others; she studied social change, practices feminism and advocacy of LGBTQ and minority groups.’ Although this stance isn’t obvious in her music, it forms the undercurrent of a musical personality you need to watch. Her new single ‘Smoke’ takes on the edge of electronic music and speaks to the desperate part of people.
‘Smoke’ brings out a new vibrancy that isn’t addressed in Holander’s earlier tracks. Where previous single ‘Something Real’ is more energetic, filled with arduous falsetto vocals and a chorus that clings to your mind, ‘Smoke’ is less catchy and more intimate. It’s careful not to be overproduced, transforming the track from electronic dance music to dynamic synthesised pop.
‘Smoke’ opens with reverb and gently building instrumentals, bringing single note piano in just before it morphs into the vocal arrangement. “You’ve got me suffocating” purrs Holander at the beginning of a song about young love. Her vocals are alluring and buttery, charmingly complemented by the glossy synths and a backseat bassline. An understated drop before the chorus is climatic but avoids being too intense, one of the reasons why Holander’s music is at home both in Club 45 and at your local speakeasy.
Holander maintains that she channels her observation of human behaviour into music that reflects the conflicts of her generation. Perhaps this introspection is true of her character, but it lacks conviction in her music. She’s well versed in the politics of the millennials off the score, but if it’s not in the notes then she’s just Lorde without the bass and weight of social commentary.
Nevertheless, ‘Smoke’ is another example of a young artist who is making music that is polished, colourful and a standout piece of its genre. There is little doubt that Holander will translate her political popstar edge into her music further along the line, and we can’t wait to hear what it sounds like.