Published May 27, 2016Holy Fuck are about the closest thing Canadians have to an electronic noise-rock jam band. That the quartet have managed to forge a career that's as much about their recorded output as it is about their viscerally stunning live show is a testament to their ability to shape and structure ideas into actual songs.
Never has that been more apparent than on the band's fourth LP, Congrats. After spitting out three records in five years, Holy Fuck took a lengthy half-dozen more to follow up 2010's Latin. Working in fits and starts around other projects, Toronto-based creative brain trust Graham Walsh and Brian Borcherdt used the time to refine their compositions, first road-testing them with their Brooklyn based drummer, Matt Schulz, and Nova Scotian bass player, Matt McQuaid, then honing their recorded compositions in their respective Toronto Studios.
The result is an album that emphasizes song craft as much as it does noise and groove. Not only do each of these tracks have a beginning, middle and end, they also flirt with more pop-oriented tempos — dynamics play a big role here — and song lengths. "Neon Dad" is the closest thing to standard indie rock here, reminiscent of Borcherdt's Dusted project, and it's hard to imagine a track like space-funk workout "House of Glass" being given the space the breathe on any of the group's previous records. Groove, too, remains an integral piece of the puzzle — check out the "Billie Jean"-esque bass line on the infectious "Acidic."
Of course, everything is relative. What lyrics there are float in and out of songs buried under a wash of effects that Walsh and Borcherdt applied to the tracks after capturing them live off the floor. Consequently, rather than producing a hummable topline, whatever is being said comes across as just another instrument, another sound in Holy Fuck's formidable and often bizarre sonic arsenal.
In dialling back the chaos a bit, the band have made room to let the smaller details of their dense and intricate music shine. It may have taken six years to deliver, but Congrats was worthy of the wait. (Last Gang)