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Album review: Vacationer ‘Relief’

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on June 26, 2014

Philadelphia electro-indie-pop group Vacationer are exactly as advertised: their new album, Relief , is  a 41-minute vacation. Relief is the soundtrack to your dream island escape: soft white sand, towering palm trees, deep blue skies and sleeping in white, luxuriously oversized beds.

There’s an interesting variety of sounds and styles used throughout the album. Golden age Hollywood crooning, steel drum-addled cruise ship performances, beautifully orchestrated instrumental passages and sample-heavy indie, to name a few.

The steel drums, tropical beats and jolly melodies are the thing of balmy nights and starry skies. Uplifting lyrics, jingly-jangly guitar/flute/keys trickles, choral backing singers and island beats galore!

Instantly impressed by the interesting and expansive instrumentation, I was delighted to hear everything from piccolo and flute to a full string section throughout the album. The varied orchestration and beats allowed the rhythms and tone to vary from track to track, but it was all tied together with the laid back, feel-good vibes and that undeniable summer holiday imagery.

The cinematic, relatively melancholic Glimpse is a slow, heartfelt track that features a wonderfully rich bass rhythm and some wonderful, trickling guitar licks. The more low-key songs featured lovely calming beats and meticulous orchestration. A great mix of simplicity and soundscape. At times it evoked old school Hollywood glamour. At others, such as during Heavenly, it sounded like something from a Disney soundtrack.

Single The Wild Life is easily the best song on this album. It remains rhythmically similar to many others, but there’s something different about it. It woke me from my sun-induced trance and made me wanna dance. A close second is Fresh, with it’s deep beat, simple and funky riffs, and nostalgic lyrics.

The main problem I have with Relief  is that it’s almost too relaxing. Despite the impressively vast instrumentation and rhythms, many tracks had similar sounds and there was little musical variation within each track.

It was interesting, really. As a whole, I enjoy this album and I’m really impressed with the exciting, expansive elements throughout. Yet as standalone tracks, none seemed to really do the trick. My attention kept waning a minute or so into each song.

Every track featured a new rhythm, beat or melody – but that was it. Once the new beat was laid down, it didn’t change. The melodies were nice yet repetitive, much like the rhythms. Nothing really grew or changed throughout the actual track. Much like a cruise ship cheerfully bobbing its way through the Caribbean, so too did Relief happily float along. There was little drama or surprise or change. That’s great for a cruise ship, but not so much for an album.

Don’t get me wrong; I liked this album. The relaxing vibe flows freely, the beats were head-boppingly fun and the album left me in a great mood. But I was waiting for something to happen. A mid-song shake up. A hasten in speed. A sweeping soundscape build-up. A punchy break-down. Sadly, it was not to be.

Vacationer’s Twitter states that they are “the eastern seaboard’s foremost relaxation specialists,” and  I don’t doubt that for a second. But Relief  was too calm and smooth to properly engage me. 

It’s the absolute perfect soundtrack to your next blissful summer holiday, though. I can already picture the dulcet tones wafting over the sound of waves and a balmy breeze…

PS we’re giving away two copies of Relief! Simply email to win! Click here for details


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