So we’re at the third generation of the dance genre. Or is the fourth? Like their old school pioneers, The Orb, which was essentially Dr. Alex Patterson and a floating pool of contributors, Holy Fuck’s duo of Graham Walsh and Brian Borcherd have asked numerous musicians (including Broken Social Scene) to chip in with donations in the past. But where Patterson and co.’s music was armchair-based, Latin, the third album from the Canadian band, which features a more settled line up culled from their tours, points its finger squarely at the dancefloor. Although it might not get as many people on it as it would like, Latin will make that iPod-assisted jaunt to the shop a little livelier.
The major, and immediately apparent, problem with Latin is that it’s all too familiar – each track is an echo of something else. The opening ambient gambit ‘MD’ (a traditional tactic from dance bands of lore) bleeds into ‘Red Lights’ where the album kicks for real: funky and bouncy, this Talking Heads workout is one of the highlights. The electro-pop ‘Stay Lit’ brings to mind Orbital’s stylophone-led ‘Style’. Closer ‘P.I.G.S’ sounds like a mid-album track from The Grid. When it isn’t reminiscent of something else, some tracks can feel like instrumental b-sides; even though it’s one of the album’s standout tracks, the chugging, swirling ‘Silva & Grimes’ is guilty of this.
If Latin can be accused of being second-hand and rather cold, it is nothing but energetic. It’s mish-mash of genres – Walsh and Borcherd drop in electronic, drum-and-bass, funk and anything else they can remember – render the album sprightly. Their pitch of electronic music with live instruments, a self-imposed rule, is admirable, but Holy Fuck lacks the personality of say Red Snapper, who have experimented with this style for some time now.
Latin is an album that can be ignored – it doesn’t require strict attention as the listener can drift in and out of its hypnotic basslines and pummelling drums without missing a whole lot. Filled with tunes screaming out for vocals or samples (‘Lucky’ squeezes in something resembling a human voice but it’s hard to discern) – anything that would give the tracks character and staying power. Latin’s tracks, although good enough while they’re on, are instantly forgettable once off. Good enough, however, is never good enough. Music should never be ignored.