Calling a band ‘neo-Band X’ can often be viewed as derogatory, because it implies – no, states that said band sounds like a derivative of Band X. But when Band X is undeniably the greatest band in the history of rock ‘n’ roll (even if you can’t find them in the iTunes Store…), it’s really a more positive conceit. On their third release, Softly Towards the Light, The Black Hollies draw so much from the well of The Beatles that you’d swear The Hollies were from Liverpool (certainly not New Jersey…). But, all in all, that’s a good thing.
Whereas their first two records, Crimson Reflections and Casting Shadows channeled the blues-ier side of The Beatles, Softly goes for the synth-bright pop-rock of the Fab Four. But The Black Hollies often hit the nail square on the head, like with opener "Run With Me Run", neo-sixties pop, but also neo-seventies racing forward, yet still bright and catchy. Tracks like "Run", the following "Gloomy Monday Morning" and finisher "Don’t Be Afraid To Ask" hew to that synth-y side, while the band includes some Beatles-psychedelica on pieces such as "Number Ten Girl" and the subsequent "Lead Me To Your Fire". There is also some sad-synth with "Everything’s Fine", "Can’t Stop These Tears (From Falling)" and "How Did We Get Here", but it’s definitely the brighter side of The Beatles that is foremost on Softly Towards the Light (and when The Black Hollies channel the less interesting aspects of the boys from Liverpool on "Look What You’ve Done", the results are unsurprisingly less interesting).
Virtually all music has been done before (and if it hasn’t, there’s often a reason for that…), and everybody steals from everybody. And if you’re gonna steal, why not steal from the best? But The Black Hollies earn their ‘neo-’ as well, being not derivative, but more an homage, or an ‘inspired by’. More important, they’re flat-out enjoyable.
MP3 Stream: "Gloomy Monday Morning"