Monday, May 10, 2010

Album: Holy Fuck - Latin

Latin (Holy Fuck)
Album: Latin
Young Turks/XL, 2010
Rating: ******* (7/10)

Although I'm not really a fan of instrumental music nor of electronica, I've long been a fan of Canada's Holy Fuck, a (now) quartet who proved to me that electronic groups could put on a live show worth watching. Their recorded material, however, I've always been able to live without - it's not bad but it rarely holds my attention. Still, I thought I'd give their new LP a listen - third time's the charm, right?

Well, Latin doesn't really contain any surprises. It may well be the group's most direct album today, with focused songs mostly sticking well under the five minute mark. However, despite scaling back some of the repetition and other indulgences, any LP without melodies (vocal or otherwise) is going to struggle to keep its audience's interest. That's not to say Holy Fuck should add vocals or even extended instrumental melodies - that's not who they are. It's jut to say that who Holy Fuck are puts them in a tough position from the start.

They do have a few new tricks up their sleeves this time around. The opener, "1MD," builds gently from silence into a hum of noises. While this does demonstrate more restraint than the band usually shows, if we've learned one thing from post-rock, it's that no matter how well executed, any slow swell of noise is an easy and predictable trick.

Speaking of post-rock, the album's two calmest tracks, centerpieces Stay Lit and Silva & Grimes, are oddly post-rock-esque. There's a similar feeling of measured exploration and winding, indirect structure. I haven't decided yet whether this is a good or bad thing.

"Red Lights" and "Latin America" (which, incidentally, does not use Latin rhythms, as one might expect) get the album out to a strong start, but the sequencing is a bit surprising, since two of the coolest, slickest tracks come near the end, "Stilettos" and "Lucky." All four of these songs keep head-bobbing beats at the fore while adding some surprisingly beautiful noises to the mix.

Closing things out, "P.I.G.S." is the album's longest and most unruly track - and that's fine, every decent band gets at least one song like this per album, and especially as a closer, it works. The band lets lose a little, moves between sections and really shows their chops.

All in all, it's an album I wouldn't mind not owning. It's not bad - in fact, it is Holy Fuck's most consistent and disciplined effort to date. If you like pulsing electronica and excited noise, you'll like this. But personally, I'm going to hold out for the next time they come through town.

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