On “Cowprint,” the psychedelically-tinged new single from Austin-based band Holy Wave, vocalist/guitarist Ryan Fuson conjures up a world where the tension between inner thoughts and external reality collide in a hazy daydream. The song is highlighted by evocative fragments that would fit as well in a short story as they do in this pastoral-folk rocker. One more cigarette before saying goodbye, a note left in a coat pocket. These nearly-tangible signifiers give the track its emotional heft, imbuing the straightforward refrain of the chorus with ample meaning: “With my headphones on.” Backed by Kyle Hager on bass, Joey Cook on guitar, Julian Ruiz on drums, and Tomas Dolas on keys, Fuson ambles through a world just slightly askew from the one we know and experience every day. The way he sings, it’s unclear if this memory occurred yesterday, months ago, or strictly in the dreamstate.
The instrumental recalls the rich guitar tones of Yellow House-era Grizzly Bear, while the knotty breakdowns between choruses harken back to the 70s era of gold-tinged pop on AM radio. Tying the track’s competing arrangements together is the sturdy and buoyant bassline, a melodically-infused bolster that both anchors the track in its structure and propels the way forward. Instead of one final chorus, though, the band introduces buzzing synths that recall growing tension in the distance. Past the warm memories of a lovely time together, these ominous swells give the impression that even if things were as they initially seemed, they might not ever happen again. It makes the story of the first verses simultaneously sweet and tinged with regret. “Hope it doesn’t take so long,” Fuson sings during the end of the first chorus, suggesting that a reunion may not be as inevitable as it initially seemed. He wonders if his partner is really committed, and if she even wonders about him the way he seems to always be reminded of her. He sends a text letting her know that he’s thinking of her, but the details remain vague. This is a story of instant connections and missed opportunities, the thin line attachment that fractures when our memories and the feelings of others come in direct contact.