In today’s overtly fickle and pedantic media industry, albums get criticised left, right and centre in scrupulous fashion. UK Funky maestro Roska’s debut album was received to lukewarm applause by those who felt his soca-fied rhythms felt misplaced within the album format, while Fuck Buttons came under fire from a dissenting minority for supposedly “selling out” by compromising on their intensely abrasive noise.
Perhaps more than any other art form, music does not suffer fools lightly, and often a band’s work is heavily scrutinised in light of their previous work. New directions, an appeal for commercial success, an ill-conceived attempt at broadening horizons – all of these are potential pitfalls into the waiting arms of a zealot. Holy Fuck’s third album Latin falls under none of the aforementioned categories, but its problem lies in the distinct lack of progression from its predecessor, LP.
The album starts promisingly enough, with a welcome curveball of glacial ambient swathes and swelling white noise that form the introductory ‘1MD’. It’s atmospheric stuff, and slowly lifts a haze of smoke to propel the band into more familiar waters with ‘Red Lights’, a brilliant opening track combining a throbbing bassline and vibrant keys that are eerily reminiscent of much of LP.
The following 7 tracks are much of same, and herein lies Latin’s major downfall. There is no clear standout track to be found, and consequently the entire record melds into one congealed composition of overdriven basslines and madcap percussion. As the album wears on, the songs quickly begin to lose the fervent intensity that Holy Fuck clearly sought to bring to the table, and it’s a shame that they appear to have made little concession to the album listener and instead focus their energies on creating sharp, dynamic songs that are suited to their equally febrile live show.
‘Stay Lit’ is the only track that attempts to break the stifling mould, which falls flat on its face as a derivative, poorly conceived epic post rock clone. Its an oddly mournful-sounding effort, and stands out for all the wrong reasons.
Latin is by no means a poor record, and when taken out of the context of an album format a lot of the songs achieve a remarkable potency, in particular the crashing crescendo of ‘Lucky’ and the swirling, ethereal ‘Silva & Grimes’. It’s a solid, and momentarily exhilarating record, yet it falls short of beating LP and offers little to reward repeated listening.