Sun, 21 August 2022 at 3:00 pm
“Am I the only one looking for substance?” sings Demi Lovato on her new single – to which the answer is, obviously, no. But her search for “substance” takes on a sharply different tone given that Lovato recovered from a near-fatal overdose in 2018, preceded by addiction, an eating disorder and being raped as a teenager. The experiences were chronicled in 2021’s Dancing With the Devil album and documentary – although the music stuck to an oddly tasteful pop palette.
Holy Fvck signals a genuine shift. In the past year, Lovato has come out as non-binary, launched a sex toy and gone UFO-hunting in the desert; in short, it sounds like she’s finally having fun. The album harks back to the pop-punk sounds of her 2008 debut, Don’t Forget, with Skin of My Teeth pitched somewhere between McFly and Foo Fighters. But there are some thrillingly dark moments too, as on Eat Me (ft Royal & the Serpent), with its industrial grind, tempo shifts and raging yelps, and the pleasingly lusty Bones. Holy Fvck has its flaws – Lovato’s powerful voice is unnecessarily finessed and Auto-Tuned, and 16 tracks is too long. But its gutsy ambition is a thing of substance in and of itself.