By Karum Cooper
This is only my 2nd time reviewing a band that I’ve had absolutely no experience dealing with before. Consequently, I had nothing to go off except the band name. Which funnily enough couldn’t fit this album better if it tried.
These Swedish Indie-Pop/Rockers take a slightly more artsy and cosmopolitan approach to the traditional twangy indie rock sound that we’ve come to know and love in the UK.
Just from reading the band’s blog entries on their website it is clear the Swedish youngsters exude creativity in every aspect of their life – they strive to create something deep, meaningful and special which is an attitude I really respect (especially from young people). The effort the band has made in doing this becomes a little hazy once listening to ‘Devotion’ in full. It’s not that the message isn’t received; it’s just that the way in which it’s done seems rather off-kilter and unfamiliar to me as a listener.
Opening song ‘Replace Me’ opens up with a rather tepid chord progression, however, lead vocals from Tuva Lodmark jump out straight off the bat before the 2 second mark has even hit.
The song goes through the motion for a while – with some lo-fi drum styles, soft and gentle vocals and reverb drenched guitar (which we will hear a lot of throughout this record) and until Lodmark lures us in again with a rather catchy vocal hook for a chorus.
I often tend to judge a record from an unknown artist based on the first track (an awful habit, I know) and unfortunately this didn’t grasp me at all. The song seems rather 2D, transparent and neither the instrumental nor the lyrics seemed to entertain. It gave me a good perspective into the edgy, reverb drenched world of Pale Honey.
Second song ‘Someone’s Devotion’ gives an entirely different view into the world of Pale Honey – starting out with a dance/pop-like charisma, this tune is definitely the crowd pleaser. Lodmark’s voice is irresistibly sultry and seductive. The lyrical themes throughout this song definitely feel like they have more of a meaning already. The chorus of this track tests the waters with how heavy we can expect the Honeys to get in a live setting – with a excellently huge sounding guitar track to thicken out the mix. This track – similar to ‘777 (Devotion, Pt 2)’ like a couple of other tracks really shows off Pale Honey’s influences. With the slacker rock-esque guitar tones of Mac Demarco and King Krule – the overall vibe I’m getting is “Lana Del Rey wanting to try her hand at indie guitar music and listening to too much Sonic Youth, whilst accidentally making a slightly less upbeat Warpaint record instead” (I know, that’s a really niche analogy).
Listen to ‘Get These Things Out Of My Head’ here:
‘Sweep’ like other previous Pale Honey singles paints a perfectly content and ‘coming of age’ picture to me. Like the anthem of an 80s teen movie, the song slowly plods its way over the 4 minute mark with a swelling synth hook and a feathery vocal line that just reassures you; everything’s going to be fine!
Songs like ‘Get These Things Out Of My Head’ and ‘Lesson Learned’ ooze with a 90s grunge aesthetic and shine with a 60s/70s retro glimmer. As much as I love simple chord pressions, bar chords and a flange effect on a guitar it is unfortunately a little outdone on this record.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Warpaint and I respect ‘Devotion’ a great deal – it’s quite obvious that Pale Honey knew exactly what kind of vibe they were going for with this record and the seemed to achieve it pretty well – props to them! There’s a very succinct feeling to this album, it flows excellently and every song is superbly catchy but that’s just about it for me.
With a bygone approach to production and sombre, demure vocals that lull their way into my auditory canals – Pale Honey have a lot to offer! I just can’t seem to get my head around the transparency of their lyrical content and the severe lack of emotion on this record is saddening.