Search The Line of Best Fit
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Demi Lovato unleashes her trauma on HOLY FVCK


Release date: 19 August 2022
Demi lovato holy fvck art
20 August 2022, 00:00 Written by Tom Williams

Demi Lovato has never been a fan of subtlety – her powerhouse vocals alone disallow it.

She sings to extraterrestrials and turns her grief into showstopping GRAMMY performances, daring concept albums and a four-part documentary series. Now, on the cover for her new, all-caps album HOLY FVCK, she lays in bondage on a crucifix-shaped mattress.

Drawing influence from noughties pop-punk and '80s and '90s hard rock and metal in equal measure, HOLY FVCK is Lovato’s darkest and dirtiest LP to date. “Get your tickets to the freak show, baby” she challenges on opener “Freak”, and across the following 47 minutes, she offers up a plethora of guttural screams, blasphemous declarations and electrifying guitar riffs - all while deconstructing her public image and her own sense of self.

“Be more predictable / Be less political”, Lovato sings on the hair-raising highlight “Eat Me”, parroting the words of her critics. Her retort to those critics is incisive and unsparing, “Dinner’s served, it’s on the floor / I can’t spoon-feed you anymore / You’ll have to eat me as I am.” On “29”, her anger is directed towards an ex - seemingly a call-out of Wilmer Valderrama, who dated Lovato when he was 29 and she was just 17. “Just five years a bleeder… Numbers told you not to, but that didn’t stop you”, she cries in the opening verse, bringing into stark relief her innocence at the time, and the inherently predatory nature of their relationship.

As suggested by the album cover, HOLY FVCK is an album preoccupied with sex - both as a means of repression and liberation, but also just as a healthy source of joy after a near-death experience resulting from the pursuit of pleasure. “I’m a holy fuck”, Lovato declares on the title-track, while begging a lover to “let me jump your bones” on “Bones”. The Matthew 5:30-referencing “Heaven”, meanwhile, is a bold ode to masturbation - a well-earned rejection of the toxic purity culture Lovato's purity ring-wearing generation of Disney stars were forced to uphold.

For all of HOLY FVCK’s mosh pit ready arrangements, at its heart is a striking tenderness. It’s a dynamic that recalls Hole’s masterwork Live Through This and one that offers a welcome contrast to the cocky, headstrong and deeply unlikeable music of so many of pop-punk’s most successful male stars in 2022. “Asking why doesn’t make it easier / Go easier on me”, Lovato sings during a striking moment of vulnerability on “Skin of My Teeth”. “I miss my vices”, she admits on the concerning “Happy Ending”.

Whereas Lovato spent much of 2021’s Dancing With The Devil… The Art of Starting Over trying to reassure the rest of the world she had healed, HOLY FVCK recognises and embraces the non-linear nature of recovery. The LP offers one of the most compelling and honest explorations of addiction in recent musical memory - it’s filled with grizzly, visceral declarations that underscore the stakes at hand. Lovato admits to being “crawling” with demons “tearing me to shreds” on “Happy Ending”, while she offers one stunning, disarming line on “Substance”: “Don’t wanna end up in a casket, head full of maggots / Body full of jack shit”.

Lead single “Skin of My Teeth” is HOLY FVCK’s centrepiece - demonstrating the album’s biggest selling points, as well as the elements it’s likely to draw the most criticism for. It’s unrelentingly intense and unmistakably autobiographical, the mixing is blown out and the song shows Lovato to be unafraid of wearing her influences on her sleeve (the song’s first verse bears a striking resemblance to Hole’s “Celebrity Skin”).

Admittedly, HOLY FVCK could probably do with a few more moments of restraint - where the tension is given longer to build before being released. “Heaven” is testament to this, with tantilising whispered cries of “Cut it off” a la Ethel Cain’s “Ptolemaea” slowly rising in volume before giving way to a killer chorus. However, HOLY FVCK isn’t an album about holding onto trauma, it’s one about releasing it - and doing so in rip-roaring fashion. In this way, it instantly joins the pantheon of great rock albums centred around exorcising trauma.

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