Step Right Up: Holograms
If you think punk is dead, well then you’re wrong. Holograms hail from the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden and are causing quite a stir. The four piece band formed a short life-time ago. The ambition was clear-to start a punk band with a synthesizer. That is the core of Holograms. Their live gigs are quickly gaining the attention of the independent music scene, having recently travelled across the U.S for their first ever time. The Brooklyn-based label Captured Tracks signed the Swedish band and earlier this year, their self titled debut album was released. But Holograms are not your typical punk group. Rather than straight forward anger-fueled punk, they effortlessly combine post-punk and infectious pop to create catchy punk pop anthems. As their mission statement (of sorts) reads, “their sound synthesizes the drudgery of dismal existence with a lust for something better.”
Words: Mark Carry, Design: Craig Carry
“A new order is ahead/But teenage blood will be shed” is a lyric to ‘Apostate’, the album’s centerpiece. Furthermore, it’s the cornerstone for the band, where one can see just how promising this young group are. The song has shades of post-punk a la Gang Of Four. Mix that with affecting punk in the vein of Dead Flag. ‘Apostate’ has an infectious bassline groove running throughout; even think ESG or any of the 80’s new wave scene. The lyrics and vocal delivery is striking in its immediacy and stark reality. “Darkness feast my mind” paints a canvas of bleakness and despair. The drums and distorted guitars provide the sonic backdrop to this sheer darkness that surrounds. The chorus is an anthem for a generation; “You speak of the hidden thing/I am the lost apostate.” Crashing drums and raging distortion over a refrain of ‘Silence’ closes ‘Apostate’ in a frenzied climax. Energy. Excess.
Album opener ‘Monolith’ begins with a single bassline. Distorted feedback is soon heard a few bars in. Drums enter the mix soon after. After the first verse, the tempo increases dramatically forming a full-blown punk opus. I love the echo in the vocals. There are echoes for me of Joy Division and Ian Curtis in the despair and darkness that’s exuded from the four members. The song’s outro breaks into post punk/funk that is highly infectious! Think ESG for fifty sweet seconds. ‘Chasing My Mind’ begins with an urgency of colourful synthesizer. This is full of sparkling pop grandeur. This is the kind of song that should be blasted on all the night-time indie music stations. I can imagine the teens in Stockholm going crazy, banging their heads to this. “My poor heart breaks and fade away into your dreams” is my favourite lyric. The melodic brilliance is rivaled with The Libertines’ masterful songcraft.
‘Orpheo’ is straight out of the Television songbook. ‘Marquee Moon’ and Tom Verlaine is ringing loudly in the wonderful guitar tones. Backing harmonies on the chorus adds shades of pop to proceedings. “We’re running out of time” is the refrain before the song does just that. ‘Memories Of Sweat’ is a song of industrialization and drudgery. The song accelerates into garage punk chaos before reverb electric guitar notes ring out. ‘Transform’ is more straight forward punk with some infectious guitar links. Sounds of synths and thick bass guitar opens ‘ABC City’. The song is full of sparkling pop hooks. A guitar solo transports you to Pixies or The Breeders, momentarily at least. “Isolation” and “desolation” are screamed on the chorus. Drudgery existence, no more. ‘Fever’ has an utterly compelling guitar line running throughout, reminiscent of The Strokes. “The fever is getting me” is sung on the chorus. The synths bring brighter colours of hope to the bleak reality. The album closer ‘You Are Ancient (Sweden’s Pride)’ deals with national history and the need of change. “A thousand years have passed since we were kings” is a lyric from the opening verse. The punk pop creation packs a punch. The chorus is “Sweden’s pride/Come out tonight’ and you can feel the weight of both the lyrics and the music. This is another glimpse into Holograms’ bright future. The debut album is only the very beginning of Holograms’ journey.
Holograms’ self-titled debut album is out now on Captured Tracks.