In the year 2010, it is harder and harder to really shock people anymore. The world as we know it has become so desensitised in recent years to violence, sex and swearing that having an explicit word included in your band name isn’t considered controversial anymore. What it does do however, is grab people’s attention because although it may not be shocking, it is unusual: primarily because by using that one word, you are cutting your band off from a whole host of conventional ways to promote yourself.
Holy Fuck however are not the usual band. As an electronic, experimental, math rock outfit you would think the use of laptops or programmed backing tracks would be essential to their music. However, these four Canadians prefer to use real instruments and non instruments including, toy phaser guns, to create a sound that is both unique and exciting.
Forming in 2004, Holy Fuck have been thrusting their noise around the globe for the past six years, including performances at Glastonbury, Lollapalooza and SXSW. They have also gained good press from NME and from their musical peers including Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and the legendary Lou Reed. Latin is their third full-length studio album and it is a rather confusing listen.
The first notable thing about Latin is that it is 95% instrumental. There is only one track “SHT MTN” that has even a remote sense of a voice and even then it is lurking heavily beneath the music. Incidentally “SHT MTN” is my stand out track of this album. Essentially a wall of noise, “SHT MTN” hosts an array of different sounds from the steadying drum line to the spiky guitar beats and the quick time stabs of the synths, which all combine with an eerie vocal line, making “SHT MTN” one of the more frenzied, but brilliant songs on Latin.
“Positive Ghosts” is another notable addition that boasts a floating rhythm, mellow beat and has more of an emphasis on the experimental rock side of Holy Fuck’s music, with the real instruments being heard more than anything else. “Silva And Grimes” has the same gliding quality as “Positive Ghosts”, although this time the focus is more on the electronic elements, until the final flourish at the end that combines all the different layers for a big finish. “Pigs” is a slow builder that hosts a dark baseline and a menacing rhythm, whilst “Stilettos” is more of a fast paced track whose beats seemingly shoot off into many different directions at the same time.
These songs are the major highlights of Latin but now comes the confusing part because, whilst the above tracks are very intriguing and innovative to listen too, the album itself isn’t the greatest collective of music. For example tracks such as “Grease Fire” and “Russell X” lose your attention rather quickly and whilst much of Latin is based on songs with repetitive beats, some songs manage to grate a little after a short while of being on. The weaker tracks on Latin however aren’t awful, but they do have a sense of mediocre about them. The confusion lies within the fact that it’s hard to see how Holy Fuck have managed to make half of the songs on Latin so exceptional whilst the other half manage to fall short and dare I say it “average”.
Overall Latin is an album with dashes of brilliance all over it but unfortunately the few songs that let it down do manage stop it from being the success that it should be. Whilst they ought to be commended for the creative ways in which they make music, maybe Holy Fuck should look at expanding their imagination even further if they wish to make an a full length record that is exceptional from start to finish and not just from time to time.
Original article first appeared on Altsounds website on 07/09/10