A pop album about the refugee crisis!! Wait … what the fuck?
I’m using the word “pop” quite liberally here. This is pop like Peter Gabriel, David Byrne, and Joni Mitchell are pop. And like these three, Nadine uses the same formula. If you’re going to make an album with the aim of universal appeal, why not use that voice to say something worth saying? Because the world needs another pop song about broken hearts, dancing, and fucking like it needs another asshole. And, if you don’t know already, something this album helps prove, the world is full of assholes.
The instrumentation on this album is unique. The drumming reminds me of something off of a Modest Mouse or Arctic Monkey album. It’s thick, forefront, and often comes off like a drum march from some alien planet. The guitar solos are very rarely in a major key format. They often squeal in distortion and dissonant tones similar to a Marc Ribot solo. The vocals are layered like a Kate Bush solo and often are thrown into a thick harmony. It’s a punk-like pop twist which piqued my interest before I knew anything about the record’s themes. In fact, it’s the only reason I started listening in the first place. So, job well done on pop’s first job. Now, onto the second.
Nadine Shah is a British Muslim woman with Pakistani and Norwegian heritage. So it’s not just another WASP buzzing around a subject they have no idea about. It’s someone who understands how Islamophobia feels from the Islamic perspective. This is a compassion record for refugees. Shah goes against shit leadership and dumb ideologies. Even the album title, “Holiday Destination”, is about a report on refugees coming in from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and arriving to Kos, a once popular holiday destination. The report focused more on how the refugees were upsetting people’s holidays and not about the refugees themselves. Which, granted, if I went on holiday and refugees started pouring on the beach half-starving and dead, I wouldn’t be relaxed. But, on the other hand, go fuck yourself.
Politics and music have gone hand in hand for a long time now. The ’60s and ’70s counterculture movement, basically all punk music, almost all hip hop. Did you know that Beethoven’s third symphony was originally called “Bonaparte”? I shit you not. Beethoven loved that tiny little fucker. Political pop has a long and rich heritage. In fact, one could argue that doing anything else is anti-pop.
Unfortunately, despite the facts and the history, many do not like adding politics to their pop. They view it like adding broccoli to a piece of cake. I remember listening to a Neil Young album next to my sister’s ex. Halfway through a song he said, “I hate this part. I wish he would stop preaching and just sing. That’s his fucking job.” Well, fuck my sister’s ex-boyfriend. I like politics added to my pop. Sure, musicians aren’t politicians. But, not so long ago, neither were real estate agents/actors. I want pop to cause discussion and make people react. So ya, it’s a pop album about the refugee crisis. Why would it be any other way?