Holy Ef Music
I first saw Holy Fuck opening for I can’t remember who at the old Club Soda in Montréal c. 2004 or 2005. I don’t remember the headliner that night because Holy Fuck were so amazing. They are an electronic band at heart, but they make the music with live instrumentation, and other means of making noise, without the use of laptops and other such ephemera. On one hand, they are unlike anything else out there, on the other, they are incredibly melodic and there is a strong hint of the post punk in their music. A four piece band, they do not have a vocalist, Brian Borcherdt and and Graham Walsh play synthesizer, Punch McQuaid plays bass, and Matt Schultz drums.
The Toronto outfit has returned with their 5th long-player, and the first since 2016’s Congrats, which itself was their first since 2010’s Latin. You see, they released three albums between 2005 and 2010, and then they appear to have taken a long break. Whatevs. They piss people off, largely due to their name. What is it, actually, with Toronto bands and the word ‘fuck’? There is, of course, the brilliant punk-ish Fucked Up, also from the Centre of the Universe (only people in Toronto think they are at the centre of the universe, and the Canadian Constitution actually contains a clause, Art. 119, Sec. 3, which states that if one is not actually from Toronto, one is compelled to hate it; in fact, I would argue that what keeps Canada together, despite separatist movements, is Toronto, we all hate it, but Torontonians are too into themselves to notice).
The name has got them a lot of attention, both good and bad. On Apple Music, their name is redacted as Holy F*ck. Back in 2008, the Canadian government, then under the control of the nefarious Conservative Party, with Stephen Harper as PM, cancelled the PromArt programme, which helped fund international tours by Canadian artists. One of the justification was, according to a government memorandum, that ‘a rock band that uses an expletive as part of its name’ had taken advantage of the programme, amongst other horrible things that artists apparently do in the Conservative imagination. It is entirely possible that this referred to Fucked Up, but it likely was Holy Fuck that incurred the wrath of our small-minded political class.
Anyway. Deleter. I’ve played this album four or five times now, and it is excellent. Holy Fuck make moody electronic post-punk music, and this album is chock-a-block. Opening track ‘Luxe,’ features Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, and sets the mood for the album. It begins with a synthesized bass track, before Taylor’s distended, atmospheric and detached vocals are layered over, as the synthesized bass track and percussion that come with it speed up ever so notably, before at around the 1.26 mark, the drums kick in proper and take over as the driver of the song. This is a killer track.
Liars’ Angus Andrew guests on the next track, ‘Deleters,’ the sort-of title track. Over a driving synthesizer bit, and McQuaid and Schultz’s driving rhythm and beat, Andrew lays down this muted, haunted vocal track.
‘Endless’ is one of my favourite tracks, centred as it is around a post-punk bass and a keyboard flourish that wouldn’t sound out of place on a late 80s/early 90s Cure album. Nick Allbrook of Pond guests on ‘Free Gloss,’ which is, as you would imagine, a glossy song. This is the club banger, centred around a sexy, slippery bass line.
‘Moment,’ is, I think, my favourite track. Schultz’ drums are ace on this track, before a Peter Hook-y bass line enters the equation from McQuaid, lending the track a New Order-y feel, which is only compounded with the synthesizers. Once the track gets going, this is a driving one, with a danceable beat and rhythm. The synthesizers would tie in nicely with a strobe light, as it happens.
Taken together, Deleter, is a welcome addition to the Holy Fuck oeuvre, and a nice surprise.