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June CD of the Month: HOLY FUCK - Congrats

Grace Eun

Shimmering drumbeat, noodling synth. The rhythm creeps in as a couple mantric vocal phrases slide through the mix. The track sways and spreads out, add hi-hat add overdrive. Within 5 minutes, “Chimes Broken”, the first track off of Holy Fuck’s new record Congrats, becomes an earsplitting call to action--get up and move. The album continues, dancing its scintillating tango; Congrats wears its synthesizers and drum machines on its tattered sleeves and shakes ‘til it falls apart. The record is the fourth full-length from Canadian quartet Holy Fuck and marks a mood shift from their previous efforts. Their self-titled was rough-and-tumble, “LP” was uptight and driving, “Latin” dancy and spacious, but Congrats demonstrates Holy Fuck’s mastery over their sound.

Congrats took six years to take form. Synthead Graham Walsh moonlights as the producer for great Canadian groups METZ, Alvvays, and Viet Cong--all bands which have received considerable acclaim in the past couple years. The rest of the members have kept themselves busy with tons of side projects as well, putting Holy Fuck on the backburner for half a decade. Once simmering now boiling, the new record scorches for 37 minutes of electrofury. After the long wait, the band started tinkering with equipment and eventually produced one of the best releases I’ve heard this year.

In an article for DIY magazine, the members shed a little light on their creative process. Speaking of “House of Glass” Holy Fuck said, “Written during one of our rehearsal space jam sessions. We rented a garage in the back of an alley one winter. It had a plug-in fake fireplace for heat. It was a great creative space though, and this song was one that came out of that. Brian started messing around with an old Roland Drumatix 606 drum machine while others were out getting coffee or something… and the seed for this song was born. All the big ‘explosions’ are created from mixer feedback filling in the gaps between the drum machine beats. Big sounds from small means.”

“Big sounds from small means” describes the record well. Congrats towers above everything else in the indie rock wasteland right now, ordering you to pledge your allegiance to Holy Fuck. “Tom Tom” hacks a vocal line to pieces and sprays gore on the walls--its driving, subversive, and uncompromising. A breath of fresh air comes with “Neon Dad”, a track that lies closer to a Foals B-side than a Death Grips attack. Even though it plays loud, Congrats is mixed extraordinarily well, stereo elements give it a great sense of depth and there are layers upon layers of intricacy embedded in its sonic walls. The record is incredible from top to bottom.

Perfect for an exciting June, Congrats by Holy Fuck is Radio 1190’s CD of the month.