So it’s Sunday and you’re angry because you have to buy a new pair of pants. In itself, not a problem, but this implies going to the mall, getting annoyed by the far too many people squirming through cacophonous hallways and hating every materialistic and shallow minute of it. But then you get to your low priced, yet still good looking store, and you notice that the song they play isn’t half bad. Your anger starts to subside, you start ignoring the crowd and put on your pants one leg at a time. What band was it that saved you from such horrible despair? It might very well have been Pale Honey.
Tuva Lodmark and Nelly Daltrey share a long musical history, but it only came to fruition in Pale Honey’s 2014 EP Fiction, and now in their self-titled debut. While it doesn’t go much further than a typical hip clothing store background sound, the record shows a pretty studied sound. The fixed, almost static drum patterns and jagged guitar lines rely heavily on what The Kills do best and the whispery, very close vocals are certainly somewhere near Elysian Fields’ Jennifer Charles. What Pale Honey add to these is an easy, pretty commercial sheen, but also quite a deal of fun.
The songs themselves rarely manage to surprise. The opener Over your head sets the scene from the start with its agreeable beat, sweet melody and non-descript lyrics. There is nothing remarkable about the song, yet it still sticks to your brain for a while. The Swedish duo doesn’t play very difficult or innovative music, but it’s extremely hummable. The following nine songs are easy variations on this kind of rigid beats and predictable melodies, either turning more into a garage rock song (Fiction), into a tiptoeing dance around an underwhelming ‘heavy’ chorus (Youth) or into my personal favorite, the sunny, stumbling summer hit Desert. The songs try to go in different directions every now and then, but just don’t have the guts to go completely lo-fi, completely sexy or completely pop. But while the songwriting is unadventurous at its core, the album’s production is incredibly varied. Produced by Anders Lagerfors, the album mostly works with broad strokes, but tiny percussion parts (Tease), far away bubbling synths (Sleep) and other tiny ornaments pop up exactly where the songs tend to get stale. While always balanced and clear, the mixes never get generic compensating for all the surprise the music itself lacks.
It may sound like pale Honey’s debut doesn’t have much going for it, but it can actually service very clear purposes. It can come as a relief in an over-commercialized setting, it can rinse your over-saturated, highly complex palate, or even make you dance at some points. Would I listen to it again in three months time? Yeah, sure, maybe, once, but yeah.