Halfway through Interloper, Holy Wave reveals a mission statement, repeating it like a mantra: “ecstasy, energy, jealousy’s elegies.” Perhaps a tall order, but it’s an easy enough checklist for the El Paso-born, Austin-based five-piece that has become staples in the Texas psych scene over the past decade. The band’s fifth record hones in on recognizing yourself as a stranger — in a place, in the past, in your own head. Even as the band muses on such existential anxieties, Holy Wave pours sunshine warmth into its sound, taking care to not burn the edges of your mind. The title track soothes with a blurry reverie that disguises harsh truths: “Sleeping with the enemy / lost all of your energy / searching for security / searching for some purity.” There’s an earned clarity to Holy Wave’s experienced songwriting and a penchant for melody that keeps you moored amidst the noise. A metronomic beat propels “I’m Not Living in the Past Anymore.” Galactic synths and jangly guitars keep things humming in the opener “Schmetterling.” Songs unfurl with languid ease. “Escapism” drifts in ambiance, with waves of sound pooling into each other. “Buddhist Pete” goes for the opposite effect — hedonism over meditation — with a throbbing, head-shaking beat. Yet the track takes its time getting you there, stretching out over a trancelike six and a half minutes. Airy and ever-shifting, Interloper paints a desert mirage: it may dissipate at any moment, but the vision’s tantalizing enough to keep you grasping.
Review by Annie Lyons