How does a band whose music was already rooted, defined really, by its anguish, turmoil, and loneliness make those emotions more powerful within their songs? How does a band not only reinforce the emotional core of their songs, but make them more earnest, in turn making their songs more powerful? If you’re the members of Holograms, you just build from situation. Coming back from their first real tour, behind their first album, they returned poor, unemployed, and emotionally removed and divorced from their home. While a situation like this would normally cripple a band, Holograms somehow used it to their advantage, channeling the batter of their lives into the ten emotionally charged tracks of post-punk intensity that make up Forever.
The shift in Holograms sound is felt immediately once Forever begins. The songs are moodier, and have an added weight to them, as if some unseen and dark force was dragging at the band. A good portion of this can be attributed to a change in the dynamic of the band’s sound, i.e. how the synths are utilized over the album. Previously giving Holograms’ songs bustling and charged up feel like a machine falling apart, here they have become broader, not so much an instrument the way the guitar/bass/drums are, but now almost like a coating to the songs, giving the songs a presence that straddles the line between melancholy and unease (though it does come roaring back at times, to great effect, such as the explosive chorus of “Rush”).
With this shift in play, the band concentrates on fine-tuning their songs in terms of emotional power, but expanding their sound away from just intense post punk. The ragged and tense energy of the band’s previous efforts are still in full effect, just listen to the fury of “Meditations” and its anguished cries as a chorus, or the driving bass and cries of opener “A Scared State” if you need proof. However, even these tracks are tempered in comparison to the band’s debut. There is weariness to them in a knowing sense, that the lyrics can sometimes convey more than a burst of energy. It can be heard in “Ättestupa” in the way it lurks and staggers before the chorus comes in with the pained but defeated call of “I’m so tired” again and again. And that’s what’s at play here. A band batter and bruised to such a degree it has altered their sound and perspective. That’s how “Flesh and Bone” can be four minutes of blistering punk, but conveys almost nothing but pure hopelessness. How a song named “Rush” can have a breakdown through its midway point in order for the band to pick up stream to get to its noisy conclusion. Or how the slowed down and moody Joy Division-esque confessional “Wolves” can be one of the best tracks on the album. The album ends with “Lay Us Down”, an musical cousin of sorts to “Wolves”, that is a slow, steady, and nosier march to the inevitability of death that seems perfectly fitting to close out Forever with. How else could Holograms go out on Forever then by facing totality?
Buy Forever here, from Captured Tracks