Holy Boy is the solo project from Norwegian-born, LA-based artists Helene Jaeger. Recorded and mixed by acclaimed producer Ben Hillier (whose CV includes work with The Horrors, Blur and Depeche Mode) in London’s Pool Studios last year, Holy Boy’s eponymous debut EP is made up of five very atmospheric songs. In the press release Jaeger stated: “I believe there’s something unspoken in the human consciousness, a deeper part of being that comes out beyond language and speech.” Jaeger digs into this unspoken consciousness with layered, inoffensive pop songs released on 9th June.
The piano-led 37-second intro ‘Saturn’ leads beautifully into lead single ‘Lay Your Hands’. The latter is likely the EP’s main selling point, being a near alt-dance-rock number but with a more mystic, emotional feel. Despite its haunting element, it’s obvious to the listener that it’s just as healing for Jaeger. It takes a few listens to distinguish where ‘Lay Your Hands’ finishes and following track ‘The Blood Moon’ begins. The two songs are of a similar tone with strong rhythms and a grand, domineering presence. ‘The Blood Moon’ also incorporates some kind of electronic organ sound, adding an interesting texture.
‘Deep Sky’ cools off from the intensity of the two previous tracks, providing a soothing delve into the unknown. It’s dreamy and sleepy – maybe a bit too sleepy. You have to really be in the right mood for a song as laid-back as this. ‘For You’ continues in a similar vein. It’s a slightly overly-repetitive ballad but one can appreciate Jaeger putting her emotional outpour into the EP’s slower songs. Things pick again with closer ‘Funeral’ with Jaeger half-singing, half-speaking over an upbeat backdrop. It closes with what sounds like waves crashing onto the seashore, neatly bringing it all together.
Holy Boy is a pleasant enough listen, with ‘Lay Your Hands’ and ‘The Blood Moon’ being especially enjoyable. But the EP could have done with a bit more clarity in its production. Jaeger’s vocals often dissolve incomprehensibly into the music. This might be a nice effect for some but it’s a shame a lot of the lyrical communication of the EP gets lost in the process as well as doing a disservice to the strength of Jaeger’s voice. That kind of murkiness may be intended but it’s not for everyone. Nevertheless, if you enjoy dark-sounding, layered, alt-pop songs about feelings this EP is right up your street.