It has been said that some of the greatest music is often made by the working class in rebellion. And while lately when thinking of our friends in Sweden we think of today's next gen electro with shades of yesterday's indie rock or metal. What Stockholm's Holograms bring with their eponymous record is an angry scuzz with a pulse from the warehouse factories that house both places of labor and a cathartic release spanning a 12-song cycle.
“Monolith” sets the tone with the exploration of the sort of “people and places” nouns that the band has to contend with in the summer of their discontent. Like the trash strewn streets of the UK’s social unrest of the 70s that gave punk its impetus, “Orpheo” translates the former’s battle cry of “no future” to “our time is running out” in a desperate anthem for change. The singles “Chasing my Mind” and “ABC City” shine with the perfect keyboard to rock ratio that work in congruent harmony. In the same way that the Flying Nun kiwi scene had ways of making freedom fighting indie pop with a touch of keyboard finesse, this Swedish quartet has taken both note and strict attention.
For those that find keyboards in groups with punk leanings sacrilegious, then we highly recommend tracks like “Stress” and “Astray” that put the guitars, vocals and attitude first where the synthesizer is either embedded into the mix like gluten or used as garnish. Take the Kafka-esque “Tower” draconian nightmare that may or may not have a keyboard somewhere in there, again scoring one for the jaded punk rocker that still thinks that electric organs, CASIOs, Hammonds, KORGs and Rhodes in their counter-culture music are synonymous with giving up and have no place in their rock n’ roll.
“Transform” follows up the never forget anthem “Memories of Sweat’s” burden of the brow with a shambling disorganized piece of pub slop punk. Even if the song fails to live up to the desire and intent of its title, it does work to a degree to set up the status quote denunciator “Apostate.” Things get heated around “Fever,” where the proletariat hunger veers toward ballad territory while signaling the closing of the album. Even though the finale “You Are Ancient (Sweden’s Pride)” reminisces the times of “when we were kings” to the challenges of the present with a hint of pride for a better tomorrow. Then again this might be just an optimistic listen to a band heralding from a country in the EU not plagued by fiscal problems with the Euro or facing austerity measures.
In a year that has seen so much great electronic forward pop from Sweden that has traversed the realms of dance, dreams, songs inspired by seasons and solstices; Holograms present something realer than an illuminated mirage of their past gentry. From the land of metal, ground breaking electro and indie, the Holograms are here to remind you that on the streets, dimly lit corners, questionable clubs, basements, and from the abandoned industry houses of Stockholm there is a riot a-going on.