Her Space Holiday – The Young Machines

Her Space Holiday
The Young Machines

It’s quite clear that Marc Bianchi, aka Her Space Holiday, has been going through some tough times. For an artist who named his first two albums (as HSH) Home is Where You Hang Yourself and Manic Expressive, it may not be surprising that there’s a hint of dark melancholy to Her Space Holiday’s music, but The Young Machines is the artist’s most personal, most emotional album to date.
In fact, that term alone – emotional – may lead some to complain about The Young Machines. The simple fact that Bianchi wears his heart quite obviously on his sleeve may draw comparisons to emo darling Dashboard Confessional at times. Those who like their lyrics a little less obvious, a little more poetic may want to look beyond HSH’s latest. Bianchi sings quite literally on The Young Machines, covering everything from bad reviews on online zines (not this one, surely…) to backstage romances with other men’s girlfriends. And I suspect there’s more than a little truth to this album.
Those themes and Bianchi’s soft voice laying out the lyrics, taken by themselves, might be a tad overbearing, a tad – dare we say – emo for fans who have enjoyed Her Space Holiday’s style of synth-driven pop and electronic music. But that’s where The Young Machines shines the brightest. The music here is simply delightful dream-pop, driven by synths and beats and incorporating Bianchi’s soft voice perfectly. There’s extraordinarily precise use of strings here and there, drum machines more prevalent, and, as always, plenty of very tight synth-pop. Coated in this way, the songs go down like candy, and the music helps bring Bianchi’s words to a more personal level that, these days, is hard to achieve by an artist whining over power chords.
The soft and lulling “Something to Do With My Hands” belies Bianchi’s slightly sordid words, as he sings, “Suck on my fingertips until you kill all my prints / so your boyfriend has no clue of how much I’ve been touching you.” A bit more organic feeling – with less synthetic piano and drums – “Sleepy California” talks about getting older and the death of Bianchi’s grandmother, and it adds some nicely layered female vocals as well. Perhaps my favorite song, the almost playfully sweet “Japanese Gum” tells of a girl and a boy, both with their own personal problems and their own potential beauty. On “Meet the Pressure,” Bianchi bites back at critics, singing, “Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind getting bad reviews / In fact sometimes they’re the only ones who try and speak the truth / But there are others who just love to cross that line / Hoping that their viciousness will boost traffic on their site.”
Lyrics aside, sometimes the music itself is sufficient here. The title track is a perfect kick-off to the album, with chimes, beats, and incomparable mixing for a four-minute instrumental. “Tech Romance” is beautiful, riding soaring strings and a repetitive string loop that mixes nicely over the mechanized beats, proving Bianchi’s mixing skills, and “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” similarly mixes violin and big, booming beats beautifully. There’s a kind of subtle fuzzed-out simplicity to the closer, “From South Carolina,” a study in contrasts as those fuzzed beats mix with soft and smooth synths and vocals.
Those who have heard Her Space Holiday’s previous two albums may find The Young Machines a bit surprising. Never before has Bianchi put so much focus on the lyrics and been so open, so vulnerable. In a way, I think this album may open new doors for the talented artist even as it may turn off those who find such overt displays of emotion tired. I, for one, enjoy the approach Bianchi has taken, and as the music on HSH albums continues to improve, it shows a new and very positive direction.