Thursday, March 27, 2008

reconsidering the honeydrips

In her almost perfect review1 of the decidedly perfect Jens Lekman show, ako made a passing comment about the dullness of the opening act, one man band The Honeydrips. This fact is incontrovertible. I spent most of his set chewing the ice in my drink and scanning the darkened stage wings to see if I could catch sight of Jens2. It’s amazing how easy it is to praise one performer (Taken By Trees for those who are keeping score) for standing and singing only to turn around and bash another for doing almost the same thing. Truly a testament to how far a bit of charisma and music preformed live will go. In a way, The Honeydrips' conspicuous lack of stage presence reminded me of label mates The Tough Alliance's legendary stage shows - a riotous event where everything but actual performances occur. Despite a marked difference in energy levels, both are deconstructionist takes on the weird relationship between performer and audience. I get it, really I do. That doesn't mean I have to like it.

Despite being lulled into a postmodern standing nap, I bought The Honeydrips' new album Here Comes the Future on the strength of samples culled from last.fm. And, despite trepidation that I'd just thrown away fifteen dollars, I loved it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was hooked by the third track, "Fall From a Height," when Annie Hall was inexplicably sampled. Woody Allen references are, without a doubt, one of the fastest ways to my heart. Thankfully, the rest of the album holds up to the high cinematic bar. While he never experiences Alvy Singer levels of neurosis, The Honeydrips does see the sadder side of doubt, a gloomy place best described on the New Order-referencing track "(Lack of) Love Will Tear us Apart." His is a world where a lover cries I feel low and need your caresses/but you couldn't care less. It isn't just love that's out of reach; in "It Was a Sunny Summer Day," hope escapes though a door carelessly left open. Ultimately, even life is fleeting, a fact recounted on the Ingmar Bergman-like encounter with death "The Walk" where he pleads, please I'm not ready, not this time3! I'm not sure what it says about me that I always zero in on an artist's sadness. "Here, try this album it's awesome! It'll totally bum you out!"

Of course, it's not all gloom. Lest one fall into too deep a funk, The Honeydrips' deep observations are sung over light as a feather electronica, peppered with a range of instruments all played by The Honeydrips. This sweet instrumentation leaves me not only wishing we'd seen a bit more of this hidden talent live - probably not an intended side-effect - but longing for a lazy summer's day picnic.

Non-album offerings highlight The Honeydrips' strange range and potential wide-scale appeal beyond the sleepy, summery electro-pop. Most notable is the single "Åh, Karolin," a slinky oboe-based song which could easily double as the missing soundtrack to a Godard film - sung in Swedish. Genius? Quite possibly.

How is it possible to love recorded material, and yet be tempted to throw tomatoes when that same material is preformed live? Ultimately it seems The Honeydrips is more than the sum of his parts. Judging by his work to date, he's a capable musician with a few more tricks up his sleeves. However, when it comes to performance, the trick I most long to see is that of live musician. Until then, I'll be content with Here Comes The Future's hazy, introspective dream.

1.What? No marriage proposal? And you claim to be female.
2. This of course was a fools errand. I spend twenty hours a day in front of the computer, giving me the eyesight of a person...who spends twenty hours a day in front of the computer.
3. And then, one assumes, pulls out a chess board.

(photo the honeydrips: Isak Bodin Alfredsson)


mp3: "Åh, Karolin" by The Honeydrips
mp3: "I Wouldn't Know What to Do" by The Honeydrips

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