Personnel: Anton Spetze (vocals, guitar); Andreas Lagerström (vocals); Filip Spetze (synthesizer); Anton Strandberg (drums).
Recording information: The Dust Ward Studio.
Sweden's Holograms play to the greyer elements of their Scandinavian surroundings on their self-titled debut, but also channel the industrial desolation of the early Factory Records sound and merge it with the experimental energy of 2010s garage punk. When the jagged drums and scrappy, driving bassline of opening track "Monolith" kick in, the band sounds so much like Joy Division it's almost criminal. The song draws on the influence of several icy Factory bands as it goes on, hinting at elements of Crispy Ambulance and Section 25 as well as the early post-punk energy of Warsaw-era Joy Division. This kind of by-the-numbers derivation would make for a pretty forgettable album, but Holograms avoid coming off like a tribute band through some unpredictable sonic shifts and a general strangeness that shows up on most of the songs. Without any of the sleaze, swagger, or guitar solos typical of Black Lips/Thee Oh Sees-style garage rock, the band picks up on the random psychedelic experimentation and frenetic energy of that scene. The melodically punky "Chasing My Mind" finds singer/bassist Andreas Lagerström's vocals doused in a brittle phase effect and arcs with an incomprehensibly busy keyboard/drum breakdown that seems bizarrely implanted. Filip Spetze's cold synthesizer tones add dimension to raw punk blasts like "Transform" and "Stress," and echoey production touches keep these more bombastic tunes from becoming redundant or boring. Much like contemporaries like Iceage or Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Holograms have wholeheartedly embraced '80s post-punk icons like Wire or the Factory Records stable as jumping-off points, but managed to twist the influence into something more interesting than simple homage. By the time the chanting chorus of the incredibly hooky "ABC City" takes hold, the energy of the song starts to outshine its incredibly strong similarity to a Joy Division song or two, and the affectation just becomes another part of a fantastically conceived song. ~ Fred Thomas