Review: Pale Honey – Devotion

In collaboration with producer Anders Lagerfors at the illustrious Nacksving Studios in Gothenburg – the birthplace of the Swedish band – Pale Honey deliver a powerful narrative on romance, devotion and heartbreak through an infectious blend of musical styles.

Although individually distinct in sound, regarding content, each track flows neatly into the next to reveal the next phase of this captivating sequence. Fusing haunting vocals, colourful sounds and universal themes, the team provide listeners with a timeless reflection on the tumultuous nature of romantic love.

Vibrant guitar melodies and forceful drumming form the ballast of opening track ‘Replace Me’; offering a backdrop that transforms each breathy lyric into an echo. Similarly, ‘Someone’s Devotion’ soon evolves from a steady scattering of guitars and drums into a rapture of clamorous punk. Like its predecessor, the persistence of drums throughout the piece – alongside the eerie tune of guitars –foregrounds the harrowing beauty of Lodmark’s voice.

While this punchy terror strolls confidently into ‘Get These Things Out of My Head’, the technical tinkering with vocal effects is abandoned in the previous song, as the natural power of Lodmark’s singing is displayed in all its glory. The Honey team juxtapose her exposed vocals against the blare of thrashing percussion beautifully, as each lyrical whisper conveys the desperate suffering of heartbreak.

Conversely, ‘The Heaviest of Storms’ digresses from the originality exhibited by the preceding tracks: endless successions of the same guitar note and the heavy emission of breath from Lodmark render its sound almost identical to the minimalist style of indie band The XX. It is not – by any means – a poorly-made track; its problem is that it does not testify the overwhelming talent of Pale Honey to the same extent as the other pieces on the album.

The duo redeem this flimsy salute to modern electro, however, with the closing piece ‘Why Do I Always Feel This Way’, in which they succeed – with brilliance – in weaving Lodmark’s soft vocals into a heavy backdrop of synth. They also appear to pay tribute to musical pioneers in ‘Lesson Learned’, where the influence of PJ Harvey’s early work can be identified in the witty display of rock chick attitude.

Using the classic formula of moody guitars and boisterous drumming, the duo delivers an array of dissonance that gently alludes to the British multi-instrumentalist and foregrounds their own unique song writing style. Such vibes of angst are raised even higher in ‘Real Thing’ – an unlikely fusion of 80s guitar riffs, sultry vocals and lounge music that is superbly intoxicating.

Penultimate track ‘Golden’ contains the same seductive form, but reveals a completely different narrative; while the former conveys overwhelming sexual desire, the latter reflects on the closure that eventually follows heartbreak. This opposition in content highlights the ability of Lodmark and Daltrey to capture various moods and experiences through a careful choice of language.

Altogether, Devotion delves into the myriad ways in which commitment to a lover can alter the life a devotee. Closing piece ‘Devotion, Pt. 2’ and ‘Sweep’ testify this: while the titular track depicts an image of divine love through airy harp strokes and gentle murmurs, the other recreates the claustrophobia of stale romances with its base of piercing guitar strokes and ceaseless drumming.

Whilst every track offers an exploration in musical styles uniquely different from the next, each is craftily yoked together by the overarching theme of the sequence: the universal, and often painful, experience of romance. As each piece demonstrates, this is subject matter that the duo approaches with astuteness, sensitivity and wisdom.

Take our word for it: this is a release you will not want to miss.

Beth Andralojc



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