15 years. 5 albums. And a constant pursuit to evolve their sound has seen Canadian electronica collective, Holy Fuck, carve out a niche for themselves & outlive other bands (e.g The Klaxons, Late of the Pier etc) who once stood shoulder to shoulder with them back in the heady days of the mid noughties when indie electro was filling dancefloors & politics wasn’t boring the t*ts off everyone.
Holy Fuck began as an experimental electronica outfit banging out a hodge podge of sounds before honing in on their more rave/electro elements on 2007’s “LP”. This was expanded into a larger dance rock sound on Latin before taking a trip down memory lane on Congrats.
They have now arrived at Deleter which is basically an indie dance record sitting near the likes of Factory Floor with maybe Hot Chip & even Tame Impala in the distance. The tracks here feel like they began with the band jamming in the studio. They then smoothed the sides. Carefully crafted the elements into coherent structures. And ultimately created alternative radio friendly cuts without losing that feeling of jam freedom.
Most noticeably they have acquired help from friends to provide vocals (not usually a common feature of their music in the past). Album opener, Luxe, features the unmistakable voice of Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor & is undoubtedly an album highlight. This begins with a skittering beat met by Alexis’ dreamy vocals (to me very reminiscent of Fatboy Slim’s Sunset (Bird of Prey)) & soon pulsing drums before the elements combine. Layer upon layer is added exquisitely, most clearly viewed at the drop around ¾ of the way through which bursts with energy. You can’t help but imagine it ripping up an indie dancefloor.
The same layering up formula is used to excellent effect on the record’s best track, Free Gloss. This time they have Pond’s Nicolas Allbrook on the mic. Shimmering synths & muddy distorted vocals bring a more relaxed (& Baleric house sound) to this track vs Luxe before sounds are layered & an infectious bouncing beat skips in the background. Similar to Luxe, a lengthy breakdown builds up before a drop rips it apart again & all the elements are thrown into the mix at the end. Quite simply it’s an exhilarating listen.
Elsewhere they have Liars, Angus Andrew, on Deleters, which is driven by a funky bassline over the catchy as hell line “are you fighting for a cause, are you fighting just because?” which is brought more into the forefront as the track progresses. Whilst maybe not reaching the heights of the aforementioned tracks, it still an interesting listen. In terms of the good, Moments, also builds up quite nicely albeit perhaps a little bit unspectacularly.
However there are downsides to this record. One problem lies where it feels like the group haven’t quite done enough to sharpen & craft one of their studio jams into a more coherent & rounded track. I get this feeling particularly on Near Mint & Error which don’t really go anywhere & almost feel undeveloped or unfinished. Whilst later efforts such as San Sebastian & Ruby don’t quite fit on the record as they contain the scuzzy elements earlier seen in their discography, not necessarily a bad thing, but a world away from the earlier highlights.
My other main issue is with the production. All the sounds are cranked up to full but there is a lack of clarity where it yearns for it. There is no doubt the muddiness is intentional to add to the fullness of the soundscapes & to heighten intensity but I can’t help feel that a bit of sharpness would have benefitted.
In any case, at its best, Deleters, is a joyous drive through a multitude of indie dance, electro, psychedelic & 90’s house sounds. The top tracks are really well executed & creative & whilst it could be said the album as a whole is a little patchy, those entries which don’t sit so well in an album setting, you can bet would seamlessly fit into an utterly spectacular live set.
Top Track: Free Gloss
Top Lyric: “Are you fighting for a cause, are you fighting just because?” – Deleters
Review by Scott Bingham (Follow him on Twitter at @in_the_riot)
Deleter was released on January 17th & is available at all good record stores & on Spotify.
You can catch Holy Fuck on tour in the UK on the following dates:
MAR 05 – London (6 Music Festival)
APR 27 – The Hare and Hounds – Birmingham
APR 28 – Chalk – Brighton
APR 29 – Clwb Ifor Bach – Cardiff
APR 30 – Yes – Manchester
MAY 3 – Glasgow (Stag & Dagger Festival)
MAY 23 – Victoria Park – London
And you can keep up to date with future announcements here: https://www.holyfuckmusic.com