Artist: Holy Fuck
Label: Holy EF Music
Non-Airable Tracks: NONE
Description: When it comes to separating the elements of dance music and electronic music, the line that divides them is not always easy to detect. It seems like from one angle, the line may seem straight; but from another angle, it seems like both genres intertwine. Sometimes, a dance track may incorporate the eccentric sounds of an electronica piece, but upstage said sounds with lyrics that have very little meaning (a common criticism of dance music). What gets interesting, however, is when an electronica track manages to create a tapestry of sound that not only conveys multiple moods, but also manages to become danceable. On their fourth album, Deleter, following from 2016’s album, Congrats, Holy Fuck uses their modernist approach to plunge listeners into a neo-noir world full of thrills and mystery.
Deleter opens with “Luxe,” which starts off with a quiet, modest, blipping bass, accompanied by hi-hats to match the mood. “Luxe” quickly shows its true colors, as the bass becomes heavier, fuzzy white noise is introduced, all of which are accompanied by distorted vocals, contributed by Alexis Taylor who wishes to begin his life anew. When Taylor brings up that he would like to “de-harmonize [his] friendship again,” the track explodes with an additional, alarm-like bass line, and a more aggressive drum pattern. During the bridge, Holy Fuck places the listener in Taylor’s shoes as they introduce an industrial soundscape, which sounds like it is crying for change.
The second track, “Deleters,” leaves the album’s moody intro behind in favor of a comparably minimal techno dance-punk fusion that prevents another perspective of the Deleter world. Holy Fuck, through the vocals of Angus Andrew, encourage the listener to think about “if [they]’re fighting for a cause, or fighting just because?” The only downside is that the question may not be straightforward, as this is the only intelligible lyrics in the song, and listeners may not know what they are supposed to be fighting.
The next two tracks, “Endless” and “Free Gloss” focus more on building Holy Fuck’s soundscape up and out, and gives the listener a break from thinking. “Endless” opens with soft chords and drums, while gradually adding plucks to showcase the brighter side of the world of Deleter. Instead of crying out for help, the soundscape shows a sign of hope. I should also mention that the track balances electronica and rock elements really well, breaking off during the middle of the song with a grimy bass and breakbeat drum patter, and having them all come together for the ending. “Free Gloss” keeps up the positive energy by opening with shimmering chords and a disco-like bassline. The track calms down for a bit during the bridge, replacing the bright chords with lower, ambient synths and almost removing the drums entirely. My one criticism, however, is although Nicholas Allbrook does feature on “Free Gloss” it is very difficult to understand what he is saying without the aid of a lyrics book/site (which may or may not be easy to find).
For the rest of the album, Holy Fuck decides to let the music do most of the talking. “Moment” opens with the soft, blippy aesthetic from “Luxe”, and gradually contrasting it with a groovy guitar, and stuttering synths to complete the dark party feel. “Near Mint” follows “Moment,” which downplays the party feel and adds a somber tone complete with whispering vocals and a smooth guitar melody, but eventually finds its stronger tone near the end.
Another track that sticks out, near the end, is “No Error,” a short but sweet blend of noise rock and electro. “No Error” opens with hard, glitchy, yet funky plucks, which is then accompanied by a fuzz guitar that may remind listeners of the ones used by St. Vincent. With these instruments, Holy Fuck demonstrates that a song does not have to sound the cleanest in order for it to be fun. The last two tracks of Deleter demonstrates the newfound confidence of the protagonist, or the soundscape, as Holy Fuck opens strong on the second-to-last song “San Sebastian,” guiding the atmosphere out of its brooding state with a sense of urgency, represented by a wall of sound created by guitars, synths, and an increase in ambience. On the Deleter‘s closing track, “Ruby,” Holy Fuck encourages listeners to think once more, as they tell of someone who just “woke up,” remarking how everything is “not so clear and simple on the surface,” which results in many people resorting to cut corners. Near the middle of “Ruby,” the frightened atmosphere no longer exists, and instead sounds like it is ready to think, ready to live, and ready to go. During this part, a wall of sound builds with triumphant chords and a drum pattern that almost sounds like a march, carrying on and winding down for an easily digestible ending to the song, and the album entirely.
Overall, Holy Fuck does an outstanding job at conveying emotion with their vast array of synths and guitars, without having to rely on lyrics to emphasize (or contradict) them. Deleter also challenges listeners to think about the predicament that it presents, as “Ruby” points out that things may not always be so clear and simple. However, the album may take a few listens to get used to it, as the vocals for the first three tracks have a tendency to become drowned out by the instruments, making things harder to understand, and not in a good way. Aside from that, this album is still worth a listen and a serves as a nice introduction to the weirder side of electronic music, for those who may not be familiar with it already.
Sounds Like: !!!, Caribou, Panda Bear
Luxe (feat. Alexis Taylor)
Free Gloss (feat. Nicholas Allbrook)
Reviewer’s Name: Nick Ramos
Date of Review: 1/29/2020