(New Album Review) James Holden- The Inheritors

As another year spent not listening to enough new music (mostly out of indifference) drew to a close, I thought I’d spend this week going back to look at what I may have missed. Turns out I missed a lot. Or at least, I missed James Holden’s highly satisfying The Inheritors.

Having made more than a dozen best of the year lists, The Inheritors was one of the mostly widely lauded electronic albums of 2013, along with Jon Hopkins’s respectable ambient dance album Immunity (which I listened to but will not be reviewing). I can get behind the overwhelming buzz The Inheritors generated– this album really hit the spot for me.

The Inheritors is occasionally hard-edged, maybe even a little jarring, but there’s also something warm and inviting about it (see “The Illuminations”, “Inter-City 125” and “Blackpool Late Eighties” ). Though I’ve heard this record classified as “Minimal” dance music, what’s kind of nice about it is that, unlike other releases from that genre, The Inheritors has something of a playful spirit to it. Listening to this, I was consistently very curious about what tricks Holden had around the next corner. It’s an engaging and fun record, and while it is something of a headphones album, there are some catchy hooks in here too, most notably in “Renata” and “The Inheritors”. The album never seems to lag, it either switches gears abruptly into some mysteriously playful ambient piece or just keeps the insistent energy going.

Out of all the records I’ve listened to this year, The Inheritors is the one I’m most curious to revisit next year. It’s dynamic and elegant. It’s well-rounded in a way that we don’t see often enough in this genre. It might be the best electronic dance album of the year.

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