Two years have passed since Gothenburg-duo Pale Honey released their striking self-titled debut – an album that culminated in songs of adolescent angst and authentic compositions from their raw approach to the recording process. Now, after touring and writing wherever they could source inspiration, the pair are back and sounding greater than ever.
Devotion is as much an ode to the tribulations of relationships as it is to the band’s evolving sound. Even on its first listen the album is immediately definable as their best yet, and the production, courtesy of friend Anders Lagerfors, elevates the band further towards their true potential.
Opening with ‘Replace Me’, lead singer Tuva Lodmark’s vocals – often echoing hints of PJ Harvey and Ellie Rowsell – are as ruminating as ever against a noticeably more expansive soundscape. Reverberant guitar riffs and introspective nuances are rife throughout, as the pair experiment with new instruments that sound visibly more confident.
The rollicking and chaotic jolt of ‘Get These Things Out Of My Head’ sees Lodmark trying to make sense of her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
As the breakdown features an almost uncomfortable descent into eerie guitar licks, a sonic insight into the mental struggles she faces becomes overwhelming, yet equally necessary. All too often musicians shy away from lyrics surrounding mental illnesses, and to open up the discussion on an album is an incredibly brave and commendable move.
The album’s lead single, ‘Real Thing’ is unashamedly brash in its dealings with desire, as drummer Nelly Daltrey delivers hypnotic percussion that compliments Lodmark’s chanting of “you’re the one, you’re my wet dream” over distorted guitars. It is in short a brilliant, sultry rock anthem, and noticeably a standout amongst the ten tracks.
It’s no question that Devotion is a triumph for the two-piece. The overall production is richer in its layers, without diminishing the minimalistic writing they’re acknowledged for. There is a sense though that we are yet to hear the paramount capabilities from this band, but choosing to close the album in a shoegaze haze of 80’s synths on ‘Why Do I Always Feel This Way’, gives a glimpse into where we might see them venture next.
Featured Image by Jasmin Storch.
Words by Sarah Thomas.