ALBUM REVIEW: Demi Lovato – HOLY FVCK
Label: Island Records
Release Date: August 19, 2022
Demi Lovato is back on the scene with their eighth studio album HOLY FVCK, a work that is simultaneously a sonic departure and a return to form of sorts, trading the moody dance-pop of 2021’s Dancing With the Devil… The Art of Starting Over for punchy guitar riffs, headbang-worthy choruses, and a self-assuredness previously unseen from the singer.
To some on the outside, it may seem like Demi is trying to cash in on the current wave of pop-punk crossover success in the mainstream through artists like Machine Gun Kelly, WILLOW, and the like, but longtime fans of hers will recognize that they have always had an edgy side; this has been evident even as far back in their discography as songs like “Get Back”, “Got Dynamite, or “Remember December” from their 2008 and 2009 records, respectively. Demi has always been open about her love for the rock scene, and it shows as their “dark side” is fully embraced on HOLY FVCK.
The album kicks off with an immediate banger in “Freak”, which features vocals from Yungblud and is an anthem for those who have ever felt like outcasts at one time or another, and embracing the things that make us different.
While Demi has never shied away from writing about their struggles with addiction and sobriety, the songs on this album that address the topic tend to show more of an acceptance that it’s an issue they will always have to struggle with and that their struggles will always be a part of them, but she won’t let herself be defined solely by them, either. For example, second track and lead single “Skin of My Teeth” addresses her most recent rehab stint in 2021 and her continued struggles, while on mid-album track “Happy Ending”, they talk about having difficulty finding happiness without using, but that they acknowledge that continuing down the path they’ve been on previously will only be detrimental.
The album also has quite a bit of a sexy side, especially on tracks like “Heaven”, which sonically has a Marilyn Manson/New Years Day-esque feel to the instrumentation, as well as City of Angels, which references hooking up in different settings around California, and Bones. While this is not a new thing in Demi’s music, especially as they recently turned 30, but here it feels more confident and self-assured as opposed to them feeling forced to act/dress a certain way by their label. Instead, it adds to the freeing nature of this record, and plays into the themes of self-love and self-acceptance that appear throughout.
One last track that deserves special attention is “29”, the album’s third single. It addresses an issue that is all too common both in Hollywood and the “real world” – predatory age gaps. The track is widely believed to be about Demi’s ex Wilmer Valderaama, whom Demi met when she was only 17 and he was 29; the two only officially started dating once she turned 18 and it was “legal”. The scathing track addresses Demi’s realization that the relationship was wrong, even though at the time it seemed “like a fantasy” to have someone like him interested in her, and how unfortunately common it is for people in their 20s and above to pursue people in their late teens.
Overall, HOLY FVCK sees Demi reach a new level of confidence and self acceptance of the shit they’ve gone through that shows through an album that is fun, edgy, and a must listen for any of Demi’s fans, or fans of pop and/or rock in general. To promote the album, Demi is out on the road now in South America before starting a North American tour on September 22 with support from Royal and the Serpent and Dead Sara on select dates. Dates can be found here.
Must-listen tracks: Freak (feat. Yungblud), Substance, Eat Me (feat. Royal and the Serpent), 29, Heaven, Help Me (feat. Dead Sara), 4 Ever 4 Me