Los Angeles’ Steady Holiday is the project of the singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Dre Babinski. Nobody’s Watching is the title of Steady Holiday’s sophomore full-length, and her latest studio album finds Babinski and friends conjuring ten tracks whose tonal styles shift from moody and introspective espionage-like themes to danceable indie pop, sometimes within the same song.
The gently atmospheric “Flying Colors” opens Nobody’s Watching, and Babinski’s delicate coo creates a pleasant contrast while singing lyrics like, “If I slow down and watch a bullet’s path, one might enter and exit me, I can’t take that risk, I want to live.” The themes of Nobody’s Watching are soon obvious, as the slickly noirish “Mothers”, the record’s first single, finds the song’s narrator contemplating altruistic acts being done with and without an audience.
The record’s title track has Babinski pushing both the tempo and overall mood of Nobody’s Watching up and onto the dancefloor as a perky rhythm keeps things upbeat throughout. The swaying ballad “All Aboard” follows, and although it maintains a seemingly optimistic tone, Babinski’s lyrics again cleverly juxtapose the track’s gentle, positive feeling. “I slowly peeked between my hands, I saw a hungry man, I can’t look him in the eye, I turned away,” Babinski sings in a deceptively loving way while slyly touching on the album’s overarching themes of human nature’s selfishness and only doing the right thing when there’s an opportunity for recognition.
The seemingly straightforward disco track “Love and Pressure” opens Nobody’s Watching’s second half before things fall immediately back into a creepily claustrophobic vibe befitting the album’s themes with the icy “Eastern Comfort”. “When I take a drink, somehow I lose my way, there’s something in the water,” Babinski sings over a vibrating analog synth and a violin. “Exit Song” feels like an appropriate ending in both tone and title, however, Nobody’s Watching’s true conclusion is reached with the timely “Desperate Times”, a mid-tempo number with a doo-wop feel that moves out of a minor chord progression and into a soaring chorus wherein Babinski sings, “I know I was the enemy but I want to reconcile, humankind is in a desperate time.”
Steady Holiday’s second studio album is a thoughtful examination of humankind’s greed and self-interest disguised as an infinitely listenable indie pop record. Nobody’s Watching succeeds at being simultaneously timely and timeless in its tonal scope and moral musings.