Music

Holy Fuck: Latin

Three albums into the Canadian electro-rockers career and their name still makes for the best lede.


Holy Fuck

Latin

Label: Young Turks
US Release Date: 2010-05-11
UK Release Date: 2010-05-10
Artist Website
Amazon
iTunes

It makes for repetitive reading, but three albums and an EP into Holy Fuck’s career and their name still makes for the best lede. It’s fitting though, as it’s the first thing you’re faced with when talking about this band, and some might argue it’s the only reason anyone remembers their unmemorable take on electro-rock. It’s not just the obscenity that sets them apart -- Fuck Buttons, Fucked Up, and Psychedelic Horseshit all have obscene names that fit with their sound. What makes “Holy Fuck” a band name with so much more to live up to is the fact that it is nothing but expletive. Whereas the others operate well -- Fuck Buttons do indeed mix the saccharine and the harsh; Fucked Up make some very intense hardcore (or: talk about how “fucked up” the world is); and Psychedelic Horseshit shows the group’s psychedelic noise tendencies with a delicious tinge of self-awareness -- “Holy Fuck” is, at best, what you’re presumably supposed to say when you hear the band for the first time. If Latin is the group’s first record you listen to, however, chances are you won’t be saying that.

For the uninitiated, Holy Fuck do their best to approximate electronic music with live instruments: the usual guitar/bass/drums lineup and a smattering of other devices (cheap keyboards, prepared synths, etc.). Considering that, it makes sense that the group’s gained the stigma of a band best seen live. On record, the sound itself is not appreciably different from their sample-based peers, and musically comes off far less tight than laptop electronica, leaving Latin somewhere between neo-prog and early-oughts dance-rock.

The movement towards a more straightforward pop/rock guise suits the band well. They’ve largely ditched the Broken Social Scene-esque mixing of post-rock structure into standard-rock songs and as a result are decidedly more rockist. Holy Fuck’s muscular rhythm section is really flexing itself here; the songs pulse, chug, and bounce as appropriate. Even on the album’s more mellow tracks (“Latin America” and “P.I.G.S.”), the rhythm section holds together floating synths and Go! Team-esque keyboard work. These tracks (along with opener “MD”) make up the more experimental side of the album’s oeuvre, drawing closer to the droney electronic of Fuck Buttons than to the rock they so deftly explore elsewhere.

Nowhere do they explore the essence of “rock” quite as well as they do on “Red Lights". Built around a throbbing bassline and pounding drums, the song’s verses embrace twitchy post-punk and soaring synths while the bouncing chorus hits all the right spots. Similarly impressive is the poorly-titled (seeing a trend here) “SHT MTN". Built around a fuzzed-out guitar line, it’s the only song on the record to sound vaguely noisy, but it doesn’t bother with any sort of “experimental” structure; the rhythm section motors along while the synths and guitars slowly build, all accompanied by the only discernible vocal line on the album -- a robotic voice repeating “H-O-L-Y F-U-C-K".

That they choose to use a robotic voice in one of the few instances they aren’t purely instrumental brings to mind another band who recently made “rock” into something unironic and modern: Battles. Where Battles brought something slightly more cerebral to the table, Holy Fuck is content to make the pop-rock equivalent of that. Their robotic, muscular stylings -- lacking any cheesy vocal content -- allows them to make music that decidedly “rocks” without any of the irony that comes along with traditional rock and roll in today’s scene. Still, the production leaves Latin a bit flat at times, and not every song is as memorable as a good pop-rock song needs to be. It’s nice to see the group moving in a new direction, but for a band with such a confrontational name it’s disappointing how little passion they inspire.

5


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.