I don’t want to be a downer, but let’s face it. The summer on this side of the globe is starting to draw against its closure. I know, I know. We don’t what to think of it because we want the summer to last forever but alas. Around these parts you can feel it in the air and sense it by the night sky that’s slowly but surely appearing earlier and earlier for each day that goes by.
What this also means musically is that the number of summer concerts left in the season is dwindling fast. In fact I was actually at one of the last shows I’m planning to attend this summer just the other day.
That’s sad. I mean that I’m running out of shows to look forward to, not what I felt about the aforementioned show. It was on the contrary quite sweet. So let’s dish about it and more so about the band in question; a little indie-rock duo from the other side of Sweden, Pale Honey.
I stumbled upon the band earlier this year as I was looking over the band slated to play at different venues around town this summer and this band’s name just caught my attention. I had never heard of them but a quick Google search later I had read a few short descriptions about the band containing the magical buzzwords “Indie”, “Rock” and “Duo”. At that point my interest was officially piqued.
You see I happen to like quite a few bands that also could go under these labels. I have already mentioned my deep admiration of The White Stripes and The Black Keys on earlier installments on this blog, and I’m also pretty big fans of bands like Royal Blood and Death from Above.
Needless to say soon enough I had their most popular songs according to Spotify spinning on my phone. To my surprise though I wasn’t quite hearing what I expected to hear.
Again, with a mind associating “indie rock” by the core a guitar & drums duo with the bands I previously mentioned I was expected a certain power, aggression and punk sensibility to the music but instead I was greeted by these spacious and night dreamy soundscapes with a lead vocalist delivering the lyrics in a very fragile and delicate way. As this album review of their sophomore record “Devotion” puts it well; this isn’t how a band like this is supposed to sound.
However don’t misunderstand me here. That they don’t sound like what they are “supposed” to sound is actually a positive thing. As much as I love the power guitar-drums duo sound and feel I get when listening to The White Stripes or Royal Blood that “thing” has been done before, so I think it’s awesome to hear new bands like Pale Honey that may start out with a similar template as a band but takes the music in a notably different direction.
Instead of delivering hooky, distorted, in your face-style guitar riffs paired with equally catchy, caveman-esque drum tracks Pale Honey delivers a sound that’s significantly more of a slow burn that draws you into their world instead of grabs you by the neck. As they blend in a fair amount of synthesizers in their arrangements, their vibe as a whole become more dreamy and elusive sounding. I don’t know if it was lead vocalist Tuva Lodmark’s delicate voice or if it was the duo affinity for synthesizers that drove the creative direction, but they do go hand-in-hand so well. And also that punk sensibility is there when you listening a bit deeper, both in the arrangement of any given song but also deeper into their discography.
What really sealed the deal for me with Pale Honey was listening to their fantastic cover of ABBA‘s “Lay All Your Love On Me“, which they have re-hashed to fit their sound and vibe so well you may easily think it’s one of their songs. So good. Now I’m a fan and a believer.
And their show that I attended earlier ? It was great. Despite Tuva’s disclaimer early on that we the audience should give her a break because she was very nervous all the songs were delivered terrifically. The only tiny bit of complaint I have, which may be attributed to stage freight or just relatively inexperience of this relatively fresh band, was the in between song banter could use some polish to keep the crowd in the groove. All-in-all though I had a great time, and so I think a better part of the audience did as well.
My song pick today which would also be my #1 pick on par with their aforementioned ABBA cover for someone who want to give Pale Honey a shot would be their original composition “Get These Things Out Of My Head”. While being a fantastic song on it’s own right, it also gives you most of the facets of the band within a single song. You got your tasty guitar parts, cool rhythm track, very atmospheric and spacious synthesizer parts and the frail vocal performance, all which are hallmarks of the band’s sound.
The dark almost nightmarish lyrics to “Get These Things Out Of My Head” are also great for that matter. The lyrics evokes to me the suffering and Sisyphean struggles of a person with some sort of mental disorder, and/or possibly someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
The pummeling, oppressive bass track that runs for really underlines the message of the song in a really disturbing yet cool way. Also the break or bridge part now whatever you want to call them with the spares, clean guitar part give me the imagery of the person having, like the song, a moment of clarity and forgoing the pain from their struggles…only to in the next moment fall back in that dark state again. Very eerily and familiar sounding from all that I know and have experienced, myself and vicariously, by dealing with mental issues.
Pale Honey, remember the name. I on my part will eagerly keep my eyes and ears out for further releases from this cool little band.