A new addition to the heavily subscribed guitar-and-drums-duo fold, Swedish minimalist rockers Pale Honey are comprised of Tuva Lodmark (guitar and vocals) and Nelly Daltrey (drums). Following their 2014 EP Fiction, their self-titled debut album is released on the 4th of May through Bolero Records.
Sounding something like an amalgamation of early PJ Harvey meets Elastica, with some Sleater Kinney thrown in for good measure, Pale Honey are understated guitar rock with no frills. They offer concise, controlled songs with an overriding air of nonchalance that also bears some resemblance to the similarly sweetly-titled Honeyblood.
Opening track ‘Over Your Head’ sets the tone for the rest of the album. It’s instrumentally spacious introduction with basic guitar and simple percussive beat expands into a deep and emotionally tense landscape. The poised coolness of the track, set alongside contradictory bolts of heavy rock’n’roll is a theme that continues throughout.
As well as their first single ‘Youth’, stand out tracks on the album include ‘Lonesome’, which is particularly reminiscent of PJ Harvey’s ‘Stories’ from the City and ‘Fish’, a scuzzy number taken from their Fiction EP.
Raw simplicity, bare arrangements and White Stripes-esque sparseness, prone to the odd injection of rage are the Gothenburg duo’s signature sound. However, tender moments are welcomed on tracks such as ‘Bandolier’, ‘Desert’, and the aptly named concluding number, ‘Sleep’. In these, the intimate feminine layer that rears its head on the rockier tracks, can be appreciated it its full glory.
Daltrey and Lodmark say that their lyrics are about “letting go, getting over things, keeping going with your head held up high and starting to earn your bruises.” The theme of empowerment is evident in the manner that each song is executed. While there are fits of semi-distortion and fury on tracks like ‘Youth’ and ‘Fiction’, you get the sense that Lodmark never really loses herself, and she certainly does not strike me as someone who bruises too easily.
With recent first-time airplay on BBC 6 Music, Pale Honey’s profile is set to rise in 2015. Scuzzy, serviceable guitar rock, this album does what is expected of it in fantastic fashion. The girls have a distinguished style, and don’t veer too much away from that. But that style is pretty awesome, so no complaints from me.
So far, Pale Honey have announced only one UK date. You can catch them at the London Islington on Wednesday 25th May.
Pale Honey is out 4th of May via Bolero Records.
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