There has been a lot building up to Christian Cohle’s debut album ‘Holy Trouble’. The Dubliner has achieved widespread acclaim for his dark, indie electronic sound following the release of a handful of singles, and has made it onto a number of ‘ones to watch’ lists including our very own Plec Picks 2021.
It’s safe to say that this album has lived up to the hype that precedes it. ‘Holy Trouble’ is deeply introspective in its themes of internal struggles, and along with his co-producer Michael Heffernan, Cohle creates a hypnotic and unique electronic sound throughout.
Breathe is a track that explores the idea of holding onto to something destructive and not wanting to let it go. A conveyed sense of vulnerability is felt through the lyrics in which Cohle is asking this destruction to breathe life into him over warm, bright synths. Ghost also takes on this vulnerable tone, conveying an inner struggle in the shape of a “voiceless feeling” inside him accompanied by slow-paced electronics.
Similarly, Drown Me Slow highlights the feeling of not wanting to let go of something. This moody track features an emotive vocal performance from Cohle, one in which you can feel the anguish in his voice as he sings “I don’t want to forget, or let go.” The scant electronic accompaniment suits this track perfectly as it gives Cohle’s vocal free reign throughout.
The album’s title track Holy Trouble is certainly a highlight and explores themes of spiritual turmoil. Cohle incorporates religious connotations in his lyrics such as being exiled from a so-called garden which conveys a deep sense of being lost. However, the track also includes an explosive chorus with atmospheric electronics as Cohle vows to face his spiritual unrest and “spit in the face of Holy Trouble.”
Blue Nights maintains the theme of an internalised struggle as Cohle sings about living with ghosts and memories. However, it stands out due to its more retro sound and embracing of dark ’80s style synths. The second half of the track transforms into a rousing, atmospheric instrumental of impressively catchy retro synths.
While the majority of the tracks on ‘Holy Trouble’ are high in emotions and often hit a more melancholic tone, there are more energetic moments on the album too. The Dying Sun features fast-paced rhythmic synths that are almost danceable. Pride, while starting of subdued and slow devolves into hard-hitting beats, mesmeric synths and complex rhythms.
Christian Cohle’s ‘Holy Trouble’ is an extremely personal album in which Cohle lays out his vulnerability for all to listen and relate to. This along with the ear-grabbing electronic sound and production makes this an impressive debut from one of Ireland’s rising artists.