Composed of instrumentalists/songwriters Kathryn Baar and Luc Laurent, SPELLES have never been the kind to shy away from serious subject matter about their struggles. “Holy Hells” similarly looks inward, with Baar finding solace in personal challenges rather than spite on their most thundering track to date.
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If you didn’t know SPELLES had returned after a three-year hiatus in 2021, you’d think “Holy Hells” was a comeback single announcing their return for how expansive it sounds. Rolling into the thick of it are heavy drums, banging to the beat of an oncoming army while a diabolical bassline carries Baar along the song as if she were riding a lightning bolt.
The gospel-driven backing vocals fully embrace the “holy” in “Holy Hells,” forming a choir that shadows Baar’s impassioned voice rather than overshadowing her harrowing performance. Though there are moments where an instrument could’ve taken away her thunder, particularly a surprise piano coming into play underneath the chorus, she never gives up the spotlight, taking up the runtime to deliver some of SPELLES’ most relatable lyrics.
Just about every line on the song could be singled out as a standout, but Baar’s most hard-hitting line is when she sings, “It was the highs that saved me / Lows they made me.” Here, she seems to embrace the struggles and appreciate them for making her who she is today rather than dismissing the rough times.
Looking outward, that reconciliation with the low points in one’s life extends to just about anyone still here after the past few years. And considering SPELLES is still here dropping songs that continue to surprise, there’s still much to look forward to even when there’s a bump on the road.
Words: David Sosa