The past few years have seen a sizeable shift in the workings of politics and global affairs. The media is becoming more and more ‘bias’ from each side, and everyday people are forced to have some sort of stance on every event that occurs worldwide. This somewhat sudden worldwide-moral responsibility has been placed acceptingly on the shoulders of most, but for some, they refuse to acknowledge these horrific events due the fact that they are not affected directly. This peculiar bubble of self importance is targeted directly on Nadine Shah’s third record Holiday Destination as she projects her political beliefs through a post-punk digression of awareness and change.
The idea behind the album comes largely from the refugee crisis, with one particular instance shining through. Shah explains she read an article about thousands of migrants and refugees turning up on the shores of Kos in Greece, and that some holidaymakers were interviewed and spoke about how they were “ruining our holiday”. The sheer audacity and callousness of such a statement reflects poorly on the current state of the globe. Are atrocities so commonplace that it has gotten to a point where we can ignore them and, at some point, begin to put our first-world comfort on a higher pedestal than the food and shelter of those less fortunate? Shah believes just that, and so sets about opening the eyes of all that encounter her Holiday Destination.
She manages to do this to brilliant effect, rousing our enthusiasm by crying “How you gonna sleep tonight?” on the title track, avoiding the terrible mistake of preaching to her audience and instead rallying us together in united criticism and sympathy. Of course, Shah is not ignorant to the struggles that western societies face. On aptly titled track ‘2016’ she delves into the mundanity that can seep into our lives during the transition into our 30s, how out of control reality is and the entangling desire to correct that. In doing this she does not detract from the focus on global tragedies, but rather acknowledges that even in such dire situations we too have our own troubles and battles to face and should not belittle or ignore them due to how insignificant they seem in comparison.
These issues can make us feel like outsiders, which Shah addresses on ‘Evil’. She puts forth the idea that in the way that you can feel ostracised due to your mental health, the refugees too feel like outsiders, forced into countries where they are often not welcome, as though they do not belong in western societies due to their race, religion or origins. Shah has experience racial discrimination first hand and channels this during ‘Out the Way’, a feverish thump to the head in search of identity. Culturally Muslim but born in England, she observes the rise in nationalism to the backdrop of Donald Trump and blightful treatment of refugees and immigrants, pushing her off-tilt melodic sways to reflect the imbalance at hand.
The record portrays distinctly two-dimensional images. All of the tracks are founded upon a swirling collection of drum thuds and guitar strums, constantly progressing and recessing in a manner of hypnosis, upon which the earthy vocals are overlain. This leads to the reception of a flat image of sound rather than complete immersion, consequently creating a disjointed and at times jittery experience. This, however, doesn’t detract from the overall aesthetic of the album due to its theme and nature.
As we move forward into times of political and, indeed, global chaos, it is of vital importance that the fellow man realise there is very little that separates us from one another. When politicians spew intolerance, we must not ignore it, and instead stand against it. When they encourage suspicion and caution of one another because of race or religion, we must be all the more welcoming. Empathy has become a rare commodity for us, one that we sometimes forget to stock up on in light of economic downturn, but we need to do better, for if we do not, we may end up somewhere even worse than our current Holiday Destination. Mitchell Goudie