Pale Honey – self-titled review

PALE2Today marks the release of Pale Honey’s debut full length, a ten track self-titled wonder of beach pop-y rock from the minimalistic duo. The Sweden based pair dropped their debut single Youth online not too long ago to a tremendous response, and the rest of the work that makes up the record mirrors this initial understated blast of intricacy, complexity and reined in control. Pale Honey was put together across three studios in Paris, Gothenburg and Stockholm, with many of the sounds recorded in the kitchen of producer Anders Legerfors, adding a DIY and eclectic feel to the music.

Opening Over Your Head sets the mood of the record from the skeletal bassline and captivating vocals of Tuva Lodmark, with intermittent percussion and a touch of synthesisers spiralling the track along among the hypnotically repetitive lyrics – a compelling technique used more than once on the record.

As this pattern of establishing, bass-driven, engaging instrumental beginnings continues in Fish, there’s a weird Noisettes vibe to the music; you’d have to take away their poppy edge and more built up sound, but the raw elements simmer through in a mixed bag, especially the chorus that feels like a pent up lion let out of a cage.

What starts off as a mere hum of potential in Youth swells into a track pulsing with zesty synthesisers and alluring vocal work, before melancholic and intimate Bandolier takes centre stage with hazy, lazy vocals punctuated abruptly with thick riffs.

At its least powerful, the instrumental of Lonesome is an eclectic, video game-ish addition to the lyrics, and at its strongest, it’s a separate character to the vocals, rising up in a bid for attention over Tuva’s flexible control over the sound.

The scarcity of variation in the instrumental of Fiction makes the music seem a tad lazy, but this lethargy in the music is once again hypnotic, achieving the same results as Alvvays if not through the same volume – the intensity is almost tangible, and the line “go to sleep, you’re all deceased again” is simply haunting.

Electro pops spatter the underlying cinematic synths of Desert, whilst Tease draws the verses out to contrast busy and grungey choruses in a concertina style, again the diverse backing suited to a modern sci fi drama somehow complimenting vocals that create a music all of their own.

The bassline becomes a signature of Pale Honey’s music, with penultimate 0100 being once again driven by it, the structure once again coming in surges, as token slow number, final Sleep, proceeds like an unconventional minimalistic rock lullaby. This simplicity is as intriguing as the most hectic moments of the album, engaging till the last moment drips past.

If you’re not a fan of an enthralling bassline, this album won’t be your cup of tea, but this polished work has the accomplishment well beyond the band’s years, all wrapped up to include an experiment tint an vocals that demand attention.

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