holychild – Mindspeak

written by: February 21, 2014
Cover-art-for-Mindspeak-by-holychild Release Date: March 4, 2014


The doughnut gracing the cover of holychild’s Mindspeak EP is a good indication of what’s inside: candy-coated trash pop that will make you sick to your stomach.

The not-so-dynamic duo, Liz Nistico and Louie Diller, has gotten early praise from Billboard and Nylon, but don’t believe the hype. Mindspeak is utterly trite, unoriginal, and repetitive, full of solid beats that are ruined by annoying and poorly mixed vocals.

Mindspeak is a completely sugar-coated synth-pop shtick layered with Nistico’s heavily filtered vocals and hyper-crunching beats. Opening track “Happy With Me” begins with a tuneless hum that sounds more computerized than human. To be fair, the beats are nicely arranged and the tune is catchy. But the song is a cliché; it’s been heard over and over again.

Though “Happy With Me” was intended as a feminist message, Nistico’s auto tuned wailing reduces it to a teeny-bop pop anthem.

Her squalling of the chorus, “Every day do you notice that we’re never free/Oh, why can’t you be happy with me?” is best fit for a torture chamber.

Mindspeak only becomes harder to listen to as it continues. “Playboy Girl” sounds like it’s meant to be hard edged with a strong guitar section, but it’s still a forgettable, conventional pop ballad. Nistico sarcastically sings about how women are reduced to shallow-headed objects of desire. The lyrics are well crafted, but with more humor and personality, they would have been more obviously satirical.

Holychild does redeem itself, a little bit, with the third track, “Every Time I Fall.” The dense rhythmic section is the only saving grace in this track. The rest of song, especially in the chorus where Nistico sings, “Every time I fall, fall away, I can have it on my way/I’ll never leave it for today with you” kills it. It’s intentionally catchy, but very bland; she wastes the opportunity to be hard-hitting and raw with her vocal delivery.

Instead of evoking a punchy, in-your-face tone, “Every Time I Fall” sounds juvenile and wimpy.

“Pretend Believe” continues that trend with a nice set of beats and a wonderful electronic track. All that comes in the way are Nistico’s mixed vocals, which send the song straight to hell—they sound like a broken record and out-of-sync with the song. If her voice was removed, the song would actually be worth hearing.

Let’s be clear: holychild is sending out a clear and strong message about how women should break free from the suffocating norms they conform to in our society. That should be applauded. But the way Mindspeak addresses the issues is so juvenile and trite that it will make listeners cringe. The EP suffers from an overdose of cutesy, bubbly aesthetics that detract from its message.

A more controversial attitude could have worked wonders for this EP. On tracks like “Playboy Girl,” holychild sticks to tired pop tropes and overdone effects, which might drive listeners away before they can fully absorb the message.

Holychild has potential, but Mindspeak sounds like the musical equivalent of a Twinkie—a pre-packaged, fluff-filled pop disaster that will make you lose your appetite.

holychild – Mindspeak tracklist:

  1. “Happy With Me”
  2. “Playboy Girl”
  3. “Every Time I Fall”
  4. “Pretend Believe”