For most of today’s audience, they are tired of today’s pop radio. I for one suffer from exhaustion of the same four chords played on every top 40 radio station. But when it comes to experimental pop music, for some reason I become much more intrigued. Take Animal Collective, björk, Grimes, Sleigh Bells, or even more well know artists in a slight way like Miley Cyrus and Charli XCX. HOLYCHILD, is also one of those bands that exists inside this obscure genre. Let me first begin what I define as ‘Experimental Pop’ for those who care. Think of a musician trying to re-invent the wheel when it comes to pop music. Usually when a band is creating new music, they are trying to draw inspiration from a particular genre or style of instrumentation and make it into their own image. To me, ‘Pop’ weirdly exists in drawing inspiration from all genres at once, and is also pushing the envelope in other ways while maintaining an extremely polished sound. This means throwing out your typical song structure like ‘verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge’. Or by taking on dark topics like domestic violence and drug culture instead of cutesy lines that preach love and peace. You could even throw out instrumentation in an experimental pop project because whatever you expect to hear, you won’t, and somehow it still works. And very well!
So with that ‘way-too-long’ intro, what does this mean for ‘HOLYCHILD’ and their new record ‘The Theatrical Death of Julie Delicious’? To me, this album is a PERFECT representation of what experimental pop should be. ‘HOLYCHILD’ pushes the envelope in song structure emphasizing over 4 minute songs instead of your required 3 minute 30 second songs without seeming repetitive or losing your interest and still producing that polished sound that all pop music has to have. The shoe-gazing nature still persists in a wall of sound through tracks like ‘Hundred Thousand Hearts’ and ‘Wishing You Away’.
What about lyricism? HOLYCHILD admits they are ‘a bitch/ an open witch’ in their first song ‘Over you’. But over the course of the album you are welcomed into a toxic and sometimes violently physical relationship. Without listening to the album you would immediately think this would be some sort of scream-o record or at the very least, not a pop record. But it is! And its hilarious how much HOLYCHILD trys to play with what some people think happy music should sound like. ‘Wishing You Away’ is a grandiose ballad that should be about ending the album in a positive way, but instead seems to talk about how she wishes she hated her father when he wasn’t around. To reflect a person in her life that did her emotional damage in ‘poppy’ synthesizers and uplifting major chords is a blatant contradiction for what most pop tries to achieve. And that’s why I am so interested in this album. Even the album name suggests contradiction about how theatrical pop is supposed to be when instead elaborates the death of a seemingly PG figure ‘Jullie Delicious’.
This might be a stark comparison, but I am glad when people try to think outside the box. When the new ‘Cybertruck’ was announced, I was ecstatic that someone was trying to push the boundaries for what a car CAN look like. Music for far too long has been stuck in a rut where we only ever see artists taking small incremental changes instead of giant leaps of faith. Good on HOLYCHILD for taking risks, and pushing what it means to be ‘pop’ music. Music can be expressed in a million ways, and this group is the one pushing those boundaries.
Try: 1, 3, 6, 10