Demi Lovato - Holy Fvck Music Album Reviews

Demi Lovato - Holy Fvck Music Album Reviews
Demi Lovato has long sung about rebirth. On Holy Fvck, she enacts it by jettisoning the pop-R&B palette that has defined her records for a decade.

Demi Lovato could have drawn from her own comeback playbook. The singer, whose battles with addiction and mental illness have been widely documented and dissected since they first sought treatment in 2010, has historically returned from rehab with a solemn message about their struggle. In 2011, it was with “Skyscraper,” a raw power ballad about rebuilding a collapsed life. In 2020, following a near-fatal overdose, it was with “Anyone,” a plea for compassion debuted, through tears, at the Grammys. Both on that stage and in the video for “Skyscraper,” Lovato performed in a chaste white dress, signaling contrition and rebirth.

If you didn’t already know that Demi went back to rehab, she’ll be the first to tell you. “Demi leaves rehab again” is the opening line—delivered with a sardonic bite, like she’s trying to snatch the words away from haters and gossips—of “Skin of My Teeth,” the lead single from her eighth album, Holy Fvck. Sometime after releasing last year’s Dancing With the Devil…The Art of Starting Over, an ultra-exposed document of self-reinvention after self-immolation, Lovato quietly went through another round of treatment. Seemingly, question marks still hover around the matter of their own survival, a central preoccupation of their music: “I’m alive by the skin of my teeth,” goes the refrain. But rather than don the white dress, this time Lovato suits up in latex and leather, grabs a spiky guitar, and borrows from Hole. Go to hell enough times and eventually you come back hardened.

Holy Fvck fulfills its promise of sweaty, angsty excess with a tour through pop-punk and adjacent genres. Opener “Freak” sets the tone with sludgy metal guitars and fits of guttural screaming, plus an appearance by YUNGBLUD—like Lovato, a Disney Channel alum with an alternative streak—whose gritty voice roughs up the track like sandpaper. Across the album, Lovato’s idea of transgression is working abrasive sounds into songs about pleasure and pleasurable hooks into songs about pain and death, plus some punctuating “fuck!”s, just because. Rather than tapping current pop-punk kingpin Travis Barker, Lovato stuck with returning producer Warren “Oak” Felder, whose work for Alessia Cara and Lizzo is noticeably light on headbangers. But this is no half-hearted rebrand: On Dancing with the Devil, Lovato sang about rebirth, and on Holy Fvck, she enacts it by jettisoning the pop-R&B palette that has defined her records for a decade.

The sounds Lovato is gravitating to—hurtling, cymbal-heavy drums, rumbling electric guitars, bridge breakdowns—have regained their currency in recent years, as pop-punk has acquired new mainstream acolytes in Machine Gun Kelly, Olivia Rodrigo, and Willow. Lovato positioned this album not just as her pop-punk album but as her homecoming—a return “to my roots,” as she wrote on Instagram. It’s true that her musical interests have long been edgier than her public persona might suggest. As early as 2008, Lovato confessed her fascination with metal to Rolling Stone; during press for Holy Fvck, she recalled crowd-surfing at a performance by the Norwegian black metal band Dimmu Borgir as a young teenager. The music she herself made around that time, with its lightly thrashing guitars and love-it-or-leave-it spunk, was about as raucous as she could get away with in the conservative Disney ecosystem. 

It’s genuinely exciting to see Lovato enter chaos mode on Holy Fvck, opting to break shit rather than publicly mend herself. Frankly, there’s a lot for her to be mad about. They excoriate the much-older actor with whom they became involved at 17 (“Numbers told you not to/But that didn’t stop you”) and tear into the rigid standards of beauty and behavior to which women and femmes are held (especially oppressive for someone, like Lovato, whose gender identity is fluid). Friends lost to addiction wander through her mind, and the pressure of being a “real model” weighs her down.

Within the anger, there’s plenty of room for humor and irreverence. “Substance” pops off, bemoaning the artifice of contemporary life with cheeky wordplay (“Am I the only one looking for substance?”) that helps save the song from its hand-wringing generalizations. It also helps that Lovato sounds so good. Their voice has always been something of a blunt instrument, undeniably mighty but imprecise. Here, that looseness is an asset—just try to imagine someone like Ariana Grande, Lovato’s more technically rigorous peer, wailing her way through a chorus about her own decaying corpse with all the messy grandeur of a Mentos-and-Diet-Coke geyser. Lovato is an approachable powerhouse, the kind you can sing along with, and Holy Fvck’s megahooks offer plenty of opportunities.

At times Lovato pushes the irreverence to the extreme. You already knew that from the cover, which has her posing in bondage on a mattress shaped like a cross. Lovato loves mixing the sacred and the profane—on the title track, which likens their body to communion, as in the literal body of Christ; on “Heaven,” a barely veiled masturbation hymn with a skipping kick drum and a celestial choir; and definitely on “City of Angels,” a ribald “christening” of Los Angeles that climaxes with an outrageous pun on Disneyland’s Splash Mountain. It’s not just laughs: Lovato was of the generation of faith-oriented Disney stars who wore promise rings, and has pointed to the role of Christian purity culture in her reluctance to speak up about a sexual assault she survived as a teenager. The middle finger she extends here is warranted, but even with those biographical footnotes in mind, when she’s called herself a sinner, a heathen, a serpent, a sexorcist, and “ungodly but heaven sent” all by the album’s midpoint, you start to wish for just a little more subtlety. 

But somewhere between the Holy and the Fvck of it all is something sweeter. In the extended metaphor of “Wasted,” Lovato tries to bottle the intoxicating feeling of infatuation with a new crush. The love-as-drug trope is certainly loaded for them, but choosing to couch love in terms of their destructive former vices scans as a gesture of self-acceptance—a recognition that who we once were is just context for who we’ve become. “Smitten and hopelessly lost in this feeling,” Lovato arrives at the closer with her demeanor softened, and her palette, too. “4 Ever 4 Me,” more Goo Goo Dolls than Blink-182, wraps Lovato in acoustic chords and bittersweet strings as they sing to a new partner about wanting to meet his mother. In some ways, this feels like a segue, a hint that adult contemporary is the center to which Lovato will ultimately return. But it doesn’t undermine the album’s essential spirit. Planning for forever when every day is a fight—that’s defiance.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Demi Lovato - Holy Fvck Music Album Reviews Demi Lovato - Holy Fvck Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on August 27, 2022 Rating: 5


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