Holy Fuck: Latin

I will say nothing of this band’s name. NOTHING. Look to other reviewers for meaningless digressions that take music journalism away from the actual music. That introduction to Holy Fuck is a dead fucking horse, not the throbbing steed that hearkens the blissed-out party that Latin brings. Okay? Okay.

In my initial review I praised Latin as the sweaty summertime jamz with the uncanny ability to transgress situational contexts. Indeed, I’ve been rocking Holy Fuck as I walk to campus, write papers, do the dishes, play video games…you get the picture. If one of the goals of 10 Listens is to experience an album in the varied social spheres of daily lives, well, Holy Fuck’s new LP is a welcomed addition to most scenarios.

The album opens with “One” which, unlike the tracks that follow, is more of a thematic interlude than a straight ahead rocker. It’s also one of my main criticisms for an otherwise solid offering. “One” is a four minute introduction of slow, shifting synths and swelling distortion that is reminiscent of some of the best and worst moments that “post-rock” has to offer. Thematically, it’s a false start to an album that is devoid of minimalism or Godspeed-like drones.  I wonder if a more appropriate, or at least shorter, introduction would better suit the mainstream appeal of Latins electro-rock. To be honest though, I do have to praise the flawless transition from this introduction into “Red Lights.” In the final seconds of “One” the distorted haze begins to diminish as a reverb-laden beat breaks through.  It’s like a dark thundercloud is penetrated by Apollo’s team of horses– provided they are all dressed for dancing and ready to get completely loaded.

“Red Lights” was my jam in my initial review, and it still is. It’s a straight-forward party number that calls Ratatat to mind. It’s followed by the equally awesome “Latin America,” the first single off the album.  The video for “Latin America” features kids doing flips off the diving board at a community pool in slow motion and reverse, an appropriate image for a track that mixes pulsing bass and serene keyboard effects to building percussive beats. Holy Fuck’s blending of traditional rock instrumentation with electronic devices allows for an approach to music that embraces the organic qualities of spontaneous improvisation. Aside from pre-programmed effects, there’s some really amazing drumming going on here, and the live fills provide a unique balance to the programmed sounds that seem to mask the talent behind them.

“Silva & Grimes” has a quick pace, but its swirling synths keep things calm.  At times I’m reminded of Yo La Tengo’s extended jams, especially when electronics, rock music, and a psychedelic sensibility come together. “SHT MTN” is a bit harsher on the ears and with its robotic voice, feedback and distorted effects, but it signals the Holy Fuck of yesteryear. “SHT MTN” is not a bad track, but like “One,” it appears to be discordant to more laid back feel of the tracks preceding it.

In fact, the latter half of the album moves more toward a harder and harsher sound– lacking the more mainstream appeal of songs like “Red Lights” and “Latin America.” I appreciate the shift as it showcases the emotional diversity of what could easily be passed off as a “party record.” The latter songs are dirtier and sweatier, and if not for occasional beams of clarity, they threaten to spiral out of control.  A track like “Grease Fire” gets loud and messy as layers of effects and drum beats build on top of each other.

Album closer “Russell X” strips things down a bit (comparably) to a tight beat and a heavily distorted voice with quasi-inaudible lyrics. It trades Casio-influenced melody for the simplicity of a dirty drum kit. While I would have liked to return to the fun times of the first half, if just for a moment, it’s an appropriate conclusion to a record that gets darker and heavier with each passing track.

Latin is a highly entertaining record, and one that rewards with repeated listens. Latin is out now on Young Turk/XL and Holy Fuck are currently on a spring/summer European tour. I hope they bring the good times stateside soon.

11.05.10 Utrecht – Tivoli Di Helling
12.05.10 Amsterdam – Paradiso
13.05.10 Berlin – Comet
14.05.10 Vienna – Chelsea
15.05.10 Fribourg – Fri-Son
17.05.10 Brussles – Les Nuits Botanique
18.05.10 Manchester – Deaf Institute
19.05.10 Glasgow – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
20.05.10 Liverpool – Static Gallery / Sound City Festival
21.05.10 Brighton – Digital
22.05.10 Oxford – O2 Academy 2
23.05.10 Bristol – The Cooler
24.05.10 London – Heaven

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