Following the rebirth of their artistic soul in ‘Dancing with the Devil, The Art of Starting Over’, Demi Lovato now returns to the music scene with a record that feels like a reflective deep dive into not just their life as an artist but their personal life as well. With ‘Holy Fvck’, Lovato returns to her rock roots and it feels as though she never left. With lyrics as personal as ever and their sound as authentic as can be, ‘Holy Fvck’ feels just as therapeutic an album as their previous one, only this one feels like it will stick much longer.
When it comes to Demi Lovato, just like millions of people around the world, I grew up with her on Disney Channel with the ‘Camp Rock’ movies and ‘Sonny with a Chance’, (which is really slept on by the way!) Her music career post-Disney was one of the more successful ones spawning multiple hits from various albums. I would be lying however if I said I was on the edge of my seat waiting for a new Demi release. She was always the type of artist who captured me through vocals and not much else. Her last album, ‘Dancing with the Devil, The Art of Starting Over’ was one of the more inconsequential albums of the year which is sad because the lyricism was emotionally raw and obviously Demi never fails to deliver vocally. The sound of that album however feels so familiar, predictable and unoriginal that it does affect the entire project. It’s some of the safest pop you will ever hear. This is why I was so excited for ‘Holy Fvck’, it’s a chance for her artistry to truly shine in the sudden reemergence of punk and rock in the pop genre. This is a musical realm that she knows in their heart and soul and it couldn’t be any clearer here.
In all honesty, the lead single ‘SKIN OF MY TEETH’ didn’t really do much for me, in fact, it made me very sceptical about how this new era would work. While I completely empathise with everything Lovato has gone through and admire her resilience, there is something slightly vulgar about the lyricism here. Even outside the excessive almost childish use of profanity here which the album has no shortage of, some of the verses come off feeling more awkward than genuine. “Demi leaves rehab again, when is this shit gonna end?”, “Goddamnit I just wanna be free but I can’t cause it’s a fucking decease”, these are just a few examples of lines that I think should’ve been more eloquently expressed rather than resulting to whatever that was. However, admittedly the track does sound better in the album and I would say it’s a fluke as no other track here comes to that level of awkwardness. There are repetitive songs that could always use better writing but overall, I do feel that as flawed as ‘Holy Fvck’ is, it is still coming from the heart.
Despite there being some tracks on this album that in all likelihood I will never relisten to ever again, there are tracks here that I will hold on to for a long time. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between on this album, the tracks are either very special or very forgettable. The track ‘HAPPY ENDING’ to me, is one of the most beautifully vulnerable tracks I’ve ever heard. You just know that every lyric Demi sings, she sings with her entire heart, it is evident just how hard it was for this song to be created but as a result, how powerful a moment it is on the album. One of the best-written tracks of the year and the sentimental punk rock matches it perfectly, it’s a song I cannot get enough of. A similar track for me is the very short but direct ‘SUBSTANCE’ which should’ve definitely been the lead single. The chunky, wordy chorus really gets the most out of the punk instrumentation. It’s definitely one of the more satisfying tracks to listen to on this album and that’s saying something, some of the melodies on ‘HOLY FVCK’ feel as though they’ve existed forever. The track ‘29‘ is definitely a standout not because of the impressive vocals but because of the striking lyrics which finds Lovato as a 29-year-old, the same age her now ex-boyfriend Wilmer Valderrama was when he started dating her at just 17 years old. The brutal directness in the lyrics here is great, this is a topic you can’t really sugarcoat and I love that Lovato described the situation in explicit detail. This is a song that will validate so many people and I am so glad that even though Lovato didn’t have this voice in music at that age, she can now be that voice to anyone needing it now.
The second half of the album features mostly songs about love, lust and companionship and while the concept is there, I only truly cared for three of the songs here, those being ‘CITY OF ANGELS’, ‘WASTED’ and the final track ‘4 EVER 4 ME’. The first of the three is this very direct song about wanting to have sex with someone so badly that you start screaming to the city of angels when it’s done. Cannot relate there but I love how this sounds so there we go. ‘WASTED‘ is one of the best-sounding songs on this record and it would be a true shame if it doesn’t become a single. It goes without saying that Lovato dominates this song vocally, she is one helluva vocalist and this album uses that to its advantage. The last track on this album, ‘4 EVER 4 ME’ is a cute, nostalgic-sounding romantic ballad which could honestly be put in the end credits of any rom-com from the 2000s. The lyrics are corny but cute and the instrumentation warm and familiar. It’s a very quaint end to what is otherwise a much more intense-sounding album.
Overall, this was definitely a step in the right direction for Demi Lovato. ‘HOLY FVCK’ provides a shorter, more direct and cohesive look into her life and when combined with the return to their punk rock roots, it makes the entire thing feel like it has more credibility than just another pop record from them. While some of the songs are inconsequential and forgettable, some of the tracks here are easily some of my favourites from what I’ve heard from her so far.
RANKING OF SONGS:
1. HAPPY ENDING
5. 4 EVER 4 ME
6. CITY OF ANGELS
7. COME TOGETHER
8. FREAK (feat. YUNGBLUD)
9. EAT ME (feat. Royal & the Serpent)
11. SKIN OF MY TEETH
13. HOLY FVCK
14. DEAD FRIENDS
16. HELP ME (with Dead Sara)
Demi Lovato’s ‘HOLY FVCK‘ is now available to stream everywhere.