Gothenburg's Pale Honey release their eponymous minimalist rock debut on 4th May 2015 on which their effortless cool and simplicity, has created something quite special... You may have already heard the single Youth, if you have, you can be pretty certain of what you can expect from the Swedish duo of Tuva Lodmark (Guitar & Vocals) and Nelly Daltrey (Drums). Those of you that haven't, you'll be pleasantly surprised by breathy, silky smooth vocals and a simple but highly effective combination of guitar, synth and drums. Throughout the LP, tracks can range from melancholic reverb filled numbers like Sleep to the lolling overdriven guitar on Bandolier, the effortless cool of Youth and funky riffs on Lonesome.
There are a couple of bad points: The lyrics can occasionally feel a little lost in translation, but Tuva's vocals more than make up for it. Musically, the harpsichord styled synth feels a bit out of place on Lonesome and on Desert, the backing guitar sounds like someone struggling to keep up in a jam session. That being said, though it's not so easy on the ear, it works.
My misgivings aside, there's lots to like about Pale Honey. The simplicity of the minimalist approach makes the record very accessible. They pull timeless elements from decades of rock music and combine it with electronic sounds to make a very easy, foot tapping listen. There is a great layered depth to their music evident on every track, either bolstering the sound with synth or continuing the walking riff into a chord pattern for a heavier sound. This keeps the simplicity of their approach from becoming boring and the whole thing oozes sex appeal like a leaking pheromone spray! Tease is a prime example of this, combining dirty riffs with electronic sounds like a ray gun from a 16 bit video game and 'oh ho, why'd you tease me so?' being sung over the top like a silk scarf for your ears. While listening you won't be able to work out what decade you're in, but you simply won't care.
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I struggled to take the drum intro to Fish seriously as it had me convinced I was listening to Chas and Dave, but soon enough it turns into a combo of great riffs and rhyming lyrical couplets, ending with a brilliant breakdown that makes it a stand out track on the album.
Their effortless cool is most evident on Fiction. It's the first track I've heard since QOTSA's "Little Sister" that (trust me on this) makes using a cow-bell sound like a stroke of brilliance! Stylistically, it draws comparison to early Kings of Leon (Molly's Chamber era) with their punchy riffs and drums.
The album ends on a high note with, Sleep; an organ-like synth driven track with slow, drawn out, melancholic vocals and layered with the sound of vinyl crackling coming through. As the song goes on the sound builds to greater heights, becoming more resonant and reverberating, combined with howled lyrics "I'm only low on my own" the finish is truly epic.
The mix of rocked up tracks like the aforementioned Tease, Fish and Fiction, funky and fun riffs like Youth and 0100 then the slow and steady melancholic album closer Sleep makes for a captivating listen, one that I believe will appeal to several generations of listeners.
Pale Honey deserves to do well and I hope to see more tour dates from the band soon. They play The Islington, London on 20th May. I will be catching them and you should too!
STAND OUT TRACKS - Fish - Youth - Fiction - Sleep