Holy Fuck – Congrats (Innovative Leisure)

Toronto band's first new LP in six years is an assured set of visceral electronica

Released May 27th, 2016 via Innovative Leisure / By Dave Reynolds
Holy Fuck – Congrats (Innovative Leisure) It’s been six years since Holy Fuck’s last album, the funk infused electro of Latin. An album that many would agree was their most successful work; both musically, and also in terms of helping them to reach a wider audience. So why the six year wait for a follow up? And is this, as the press release accompanying the album states, their “holiest fuckiest release ever?”

Well, the first question is easy to answer. For bands like Holy Fuck, who progress in the first part of their careers through DIY recordings, releasing music fairly regularly to help find and then build a fanbase, the moment when you don’t need to hurry anymore is a strange thing. The two core members of the band, Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh, spent time on various other projects. Borcherdt explained that they started to feel like Indiana Jones running from that boulder: "He had to step aside and let things settle!"

Borcherdt dipped in and out of a half-dozen musical side projects, while Walsh worked as an engineer and a producer for a wide spectrum of bands, like the noise-punk of Metz, and the twee indie-pop of Wintersleep.
This six year gap between albums, and what Borcherdt and Walsh have spent their time doing has heavily informed Holy Fuck’s new album, Congrats. If anything, it could be said that the LP sounds more like a Metz album than it does a Holy Fuck album. Gone is the melodic funk of Latin; replaced by a focused, more visceral electronica.

By no means have they lost sight of that smart, groove based rhythm that they create so well, but on Congrats, it’s more Krautrock in nature, coupled with heavily distorted vocals, fuzzed out, industrial keys, and smart, sharp percussion. Lead single ‘Tom Tom’ showcases all of these aspects, with a measured, hypnotic progression, and swirling textures. ‘Neon Dad’ is a little more opaque in nature, sounding like a sun-soaked Wavves King of the Beach era track, but still swarming in Holy Fuck atmospherics. It’s a little easier to access and take in than much of the album on first listen, before eventually descending into a washed-out, scuffed-up ending. We’re pretty swiftly reminded that ‘Neon Dad’ is the exception to the rule on Congrats, as ‘House of Glass’ follows with a drone-like intro, which shatters any illusions of things getting a little too light.

‘Acidic’ is a classic showcase of what Holy Fuck as a band are capable of. It opens up with a taught, piercing siren, before falling into a captivating racket of swirling energy and noise. The melodic funk of Latin is behind us, but Holy Fuck have one hell of an ear for finding melody in the chaos, and that shines through not only on ‘Acidic’, but on Congrats as a whole. It truly is the holiest, and quite possible the fuckiest album you’ll hear this year.