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The chorus-laden bass melody starting “Flesh and Bone,” the lead single off Forever, will most surely remind readers of a certain hugely influential post-punk band, but soon enough Sweden’s Holograms takes the reigns and guides the song into soaring anthemic territory. It’s a fitting progression for this fast-evolving band.

The group’s 2010 self-titled debut displayed a rough but effective take on synth-laced punk, amped up by the passionate shouts of frontman/bassist Andreas Lagerström. With Forever, Holograms continue in a similar vein of the first album, but have improved on every facet of their sound and vision. The synths, which at times sounded out-of-place on Holograms, are cleverly interwoven with the guitars this time to create a monolithic wall of noise. “Laughter Breaks the Silence” contains a ghostly synth line in the verses that lends an insidious air of dread to the already ominous track. “Wolves” starts (fittingly) with an industrial howling drone, presenting a hauntingly beautiful soundscape, Lagerström deciding to pull back on his insistent shouts. In a striking moment, the music begins to fall apart, as if the song itself is breaking. It’s Holograms at their most vocally restrained yet sonically inventive.

Holograms straddle driving post-punk and anthemic pop in a similar spirit as the Chameleons, yet they exude their own steel-eyed aggression and confidence. “Luminous” and “Rush” offer thematic ascensions into love and passion, and feel like deserved pit-stops on the widely gloomy atmosphere of Forever. They serve to remind the listener that there is real flesh and blood beneath the austere face of this well-oiled machine. “Lay Us Down” lays us down gently with angelic background vocals, a slow-motion lush pop anthem grounded with Lagerström’s gruff but melodic vocals. It’s a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel and certainly points to future brilliance from Holograms.

You can stream the entire album here, then buy the damned thing straight from NYC darlings Captured Tracks.

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