On their self-titled debut album, the brooding Swedish hooligans spray-tag late-’70s post-punk turf that’s unavoidably near the bloodied stage-diving grounds of similarly astounding Danish brutes Iceage. As previewed, though, by lead single “ABC City,” a ferocious rebel yell from a drab Stockholm housing project, Holograms has the worn-out synth wobble, scrappy gang-vocal hooks and brusquely sloganeering youth-without-youth perspective to set it apart — both from summer-of-’78 retro pastiche and the group’s contemporaries over in Copenhagen. It’s a triumphant record with scrappy muscles and brittle bones.
Within this rickety garage-punk milieu, each of the set’s 12 tracks is impressively distinct. Vocal duties on the album are split between the bark of bassist Andreas LagerstrÃ¶m and the higher-pitched shouts of guitarist Anton Spetze, which helps keeps the listener on their toes. Slow-building opener “Monoliths” borrows a bit of Joy Division’s gloom to set the album’s seductively menacing tone, but that’s followed by the itchy indie-dance of “Chasing My Mind,” which evokes Los Campesinos! and Love Is All. Angst-ridden “Fever” breaks into a towering early-Weezer coda. The art-punk squall “Memories of Sweat” interrupts its chorus with percussive bursts. Soaring last stand “You Are Ancient (Sweden’s Pride)” is a sly, “Born in the USA”-like anti-fascist anthem. With all these tricks in their arsenal and an infectious sense of enthusiasm to animate them, Holograms is anything but one-dimensional.