I'm coming at the psych-pop of Sweden's Holy after first loving the music of Nora Karlsson's Boys. Like on the Boys EP, there's a decided retro vibe to the cuts on Stabs, out now on PNKSLM. But, like the music of Temple Songs and Pink Teens (whose Jolan is due to release his album as The Foetals on the same label soon), the music of Holy is warped Sixties pop that creates an uneasy mood even as a listener nods along to the beat.
"Silver of Your Heart" glides by like an old Jefferson Airplane cut, while the title track on The Holy Show clatters in a style not entirely unlike those early Temple Songs singles. If Holy are charting unfamiliar territory here, they are doing it with a great deal of panache. There is not one moment on Stabs that is boring and a listener has to admire any band that tries this hard to keep things this interesting. "Get By" charms in the style of early Pixies numbers where things rushed by in a haze of guitar hooks and noise. Decidedly throwback, cuts like this are blasts of energy that raise Holy above dozens of less inventive peers in the market-place at the moment.
"Lights" makes one think of that "Vegetable Man" cover by The Jesus and Mary Chain; like that fuzzed out version of the Pink Floyd nugget, Holy here bring to bear decided Sixties influences in the service of something that sounds like now. The only other bands even close to pulling off this sort of thing are Allah-Las and Temple Songs/Pink Teens. As "Lights" devolves into a mess of noisy feedback, the slow-burning "Clouds" fires itself up in the sort of hazy rage favored by Ty Segall when he's trying to update the Blue Cheer template. Decidedly more nuanced than a lot of that stuff, this Holy cut is, like most of the cuts on Stabs, the sort of thing that gives this listener chills. Brave and blazing, this is indie pop that is pushing at the edges of the genre while remaining wildly catchy and accessible.
If I belabor that whole Sixties vibe-thang here, it's worth noting that "Five O'Clock World"-hook keeping the percolating "Rooftops" grounded. Despite some JAMC-worthy feedback, the cut is impressively direct and still the sort of thing I'd have a hard time describing to most indie rock fans.
The more laidback "Sympathy Stings" recalls early Primal Scream crossed with The Move in some odd way. Gently melodic, the cut showcases yet another side of this inventive band. Like most of the cuts on Stabs, "No Horror" nods enough in the direction of those worthy earlier influences to instantly captivate a listener even while the track subtly and wonderfully goes off the rails. This is at once decidedly fucked up music that still retains an effortless pop gloss. Wholly catchy and altogether out there, the tune-age of Holy is something special indeed. Fans of Temple Songs and Ty Segall will love this.