Album Review: Skeletons on Vacation - S/T

I recently joined Instagram, much to my chagrin. And while I’m still figuring it out, occasionally, a rando will come along and either begin to follow me, or will ‘like’ a bunch of my posts—which is what happened a few weeks ago with the account for Pale Blue Records, a recently founded independent record label, based on the East Coast.

A handful of releases to their name so far, many of which are from Dan Svizeny’s Cool Cough moniker—something I had somehow heard of a few years back—one Pale Blue release that caught my attention was the self-titled debut EP from Skeletons on Vacation.

Based out of Delaware (of all places), Skeletons on Vacation is the work of Bill Martin, and this six-track effort has almost all the efforts of a one-man, lo-fi, bedroom project, except through proper mastering, it has the benefit of a some relatively slick and big sounding post-production values. 

Martin has a knack for writing pop hooks—something that becomes very apparent almost right away on this effort. The EP’s opening track, “Blast Chiller,” is structured around an interesting percussive rhythm, crunchy electric guitars, and a big, sing a long refrain which will be stuck in your head for days—“Can you say that you were having a good time,” Martin croons through minor vocal distortion. “Or would you say that you were having the best time ever.”

He revisits that catchy accessibility within the EP’s second half on “Husbands Run,” the other clear stand out from this collection. A slithering, slinking track that is backed by a skittering drum sequence, along with a mix of jangly, loose, and dreamy guitar noodling—and what it lacks in a discernable hook, it makes up for in its overall triumphant, soaring, indie pop aesthetic.

 As Skeletons on Vacation, Martin finds the place where he’s comfortable working, and stays within those boundaries—blending vintage, clattering drum machines, multi-tracked ramshackle electric guitars, and the occasional synthesizer twinkle. It’s a perfectly charming, fun, and energetic listen, but at the same time, there is little variation from song to song—it stops short of ‘all sounding the same,’ but if you listen from start to finish, you’ll realize that maybe more than one song has passed you by before you notice something that really grabs your attention again.

Similar to Pale Blue, Skeletons on Vacation is a relatively new endeavor—as a songwriter and solo performer, Martin shows a lot of potential on this debut effort, allowing himself room to grow outside of his current palate on future releases. Taken as a whole, Skeletons on Vacation doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it also almost doesn’t stick around long enough for us to really get to know it, or for it to make a completely lasting impression.

Skeletons on Vacation is out now as a digital download.