Rock n’ roll has no borders and no limitations, and if you’re looking for living proof of this, I seriously recommend giving Croatia’s own Jonathan a listen sometime. In their new album To Hold, this band doesn’t just try their hand at the western alternative rock model; they straight up redefine the parameters of the genre and demonstrate an earnest, humble poetic wit that is unlike anything you’ll hear coming out of the States at the moment. To Hold starts off strong with the blustery “Way to Go,” punk batterer “Seasons,” virtuous heavy metal in “Something to Cry About” and finally the exotic “I Never Meant to Be There,” all before descending into a second act that is best described as a rock aficionado’s gateway to heaven.

In the latter half of To Hold, we find songs like the tension-building “Monkeys” and “Gone,” but we also find a darling collaboration with Lovely Quinces in “I Don’t Mind,” one of the record’s most emotional moments in my opinion. Jonathan pull out all the stops here both in their lyrical content and the texture of their instrumentals, which wrap around us tightly but stop short of suffocating us in their god-like rumble. The basslines are out of control in “Wake up Call” and “Something to Cry About,” but they don’t drown us in grandiosity (though on paper, it would appear impossible for them not to). You can tell that a lot of time and patience was put into recording this material, as these arrangements are anything but simple.

The production quality that we see here is stellar from one end of the track listing to the other, and I like the fact that the band didn’t utilize only one style of mixing for every song included on To Hold. “Way to Go” has a completely different color to it than “I Don’t Mind” or “Seasons,” and it isn’t exclusively because of the structural differences between the tracks. Jonathan went out of their way in delivering us a really erudite collection of songs here, and their efforts were well worth it, as tracks like “Monkeys” and “I Never Meant to Be There” stand out as among the most charismatic and formidable of any cut in 2019 so far.

As lyrically moving as it is cosmetically and compositionally inviting, To Hold is an enormous breakthrough for the intrepidly talented Jonathan, and though the American rock scene has been plagued with a bit of a lull in talent for the last few years, Croatia has just produced a legitimate force to be reckoned with in this band. There are admittedly a lot of layers to dig through in this record, and not one of these songs is as cut and dry as what you would find on a major label mixtape, but make no mistake about it – To Hold is just as appealing to occasional pop fans as it is hardcore ones like myself. This is a big moment for Jonathan, and they spared no effort nor expense in making it their own.


Sebastian Cole