Pale Honey

Pale Honey

Instant Records, 2015

REVIEW BY: Ludwik Wodka


As is often the case with rock duos, their music has a tendency to be very direct and stripped-down – and this is by necessity. As long as the songwriting is strong, this formula can be very potent and effective. Pale Honey is such a “minimalist rock” duo from Sweden, consisting of guitarist Tuva Lodmark and drummer Nelly Daltrey. “If there’s anything we get compared to it’s probably the White Stripes but without the insane intensity,” they stated in a 2014 interview. Perhaps one could come a lot closer to the mark comparing their sound to PJ Harvey, Cat Power, or The Raveonettes. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Following up on their 2014 EP Fiction, this full-length self-titled debut album features songs are consistently strong throughout: understated, stylish, and lean. To fill out the sound, the guitarist rarely relies on full chords, but often just fifths or an ostinato figure played behind the vocals. Occasionally, keyboards (i.e. synthesizers) and bass are added in, but it is always in a subdued, sparse arrangement.

The opening track “Over Your Head” starts with only a muted riff and drums backing the vocals. The soft-loud dynamics and the catchy hook in the chorus showcase the band’s strengths right away. They have a knack for doing more with less.

“Youth” is another excellent example of this, driven by a simple yet strong guitar riff. It starts off with a simple guitar line (processed to sound almost like a keyboard), but then transforms into loud distortion for the chorus. It is a consistent yet irresistible approach. However, nearly all of the songs on the album can be described in these terms. Most of them open quietly and burst out with a distortion-drive riff in the chorus with multi-tracked vocals.

The closing track, “Sleep,” exchanges the loud chorus for a reverb-heavy dream-pop sound (appropriate for a song with this title, I suppose). It offers a bit of a change of pace from most of the other songs, but only slightly.

As much as I like what I hear, I can’t help but feel that the songs start to seem formulaic about half way through the album. There are good songs here, but I was hoping for a little more – more complexity, more diversity, more something – to keep me interested.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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