When Holy Fuck meandered more prominently onto the scene in 2007, critics weren’t licking their lips at the opportunity to slam the sophomore release, LP, if only because their eponymous debut was decidedly lacking. The band consisted of some Toronto band remnants, while the album was a scattershot mix of uptempo live drums, bass, and bizarre electronic noises from circuit-bent toys. It all sounded great, but they had no discernible musical direction: despite the rhythms being tight as fuck, both the debut and follow-up ambled along between ideas, with no heed paid to fluidity or a consistent theme.
So when the band retreated to a barn in rural Ontario for their latest release, there must have been talk about mixing in some flow with the noise they had been coaxing out of their amusing machines, as the result is exactly that. Checking in at just under 40 minutes, Latin is the most cohesive release by the group while still readily exploring interesting grooves. If music reviews had headlines, Latin’s would say, “They’re getting better at this.”
The album opens with “1MD,” a long atmospheric track that welcomes the listener with a wash of pads, tones, and vocals under heavy effect — the first clear aesthetic departure from the past. The newly discovered restraint earns its keep 4 minutes and 14 seconds in with a few taps on a hi-hat and then a thick ’n’ funky beat that is definitively ‘Holy Fuck.’ In the following 35 minutes, the band uses its trademark tools to lay down meaty grooves without ever getting boring or too repetitive, a testament to its focus and direction.
There are pockets of excellence all over the album, with the bassline on “Red Lights,” the distortion on “SHT MTN,” and the fury of “Stilletos” being obvious highlights. The standout moment for me, however, is “P.I.G.S.,” the closest Holy Fuck come to returning to their more chaotic past while still flaunting their new ability to reel it in. The result is an absolute monster of a closing track that caps a seductively repeatable album, which speaks miles to the effort on Holy Fuck’s strongest album to date.