Coming straight out of the Cambridge rock scene with their debut album, Sunlight for Honey hit it out of the park with So Much for the Harmony of the Day. A brilliant combination of intelligent songwriting and in your face raw power. While it’s only March, So Much for the Harmony of the Day is my favourite album to come out this year.
First things first, a little history in the spirit of being transparent. This particular writer is biased in favour of Sunlight for Honey. Louis, James, Adam and Adam are old friends of mine and I’ve been to many of their gigs around Cambridgeshire. However, I’ve done my best to not let my friendship with them alter my opinions of this album. I can say as objectively as I can muster, that I genuinely love this album and consider it to be a contemporary masterpiece of its moment. What I can tell you from knowing the band is this: their live show is a performance spectacle of professionalism and individual character; the songs are heavy yet anxiously beautiful. I also have to give props to the nuanced theatrical stylistics of the performance in dress and action.
The opening track Pacified gives off an almost 90’s west coast grunge vibe, with a Lemonheads-like frequency, however, with its lower, lazy tempo yet higher functioning psychedelic sound, the track really gives off a hazy but purposeful atmosphere. The lyrics of Pacified talk about relationship dynamics being subdued and numb, adding to the tripped out effect.
One lyric in particular “I don’t like real life I like video games” is repeated, adding emphasis. This combination of lyrics about psychedelic numbness and wanting to play video games both project one word into my mind: escapism. Escapism through drugs; through technology. Why then are a group of young creatives from Cambridge singing about escapism? As I myself spent my teenage years living in Cambridge I think I can get a good idea of where they are coming from. My friends and I spent many hours indulging in the pursuit of the escape from the confines of 21st Century Western hemisphere banality and the post-trauma of institutionalised Tory education. Whether through video games, drugs, sex or music, this generation is constantly trying to get away from the ‘real’ world to a spectrum of other realness or hyper existence. It’s no wonder really, considering the downward spiral of libertarianism to rising right wing movements that the internet has made simultaneously more visible but yet also incomprehensible. Whether it’s famine and war, corruption, or social division, things perceived by emerging thinkers are at a state of despair. Sunlight for Honey absolutely illustrate this message home with this track. The chilled out drum beat with a snappy snare, bass drum and hi hat combo keeping everything in place is a stand out part of Pacified. It sets the pace perfectly, and despite how manic the guitar parts get, the drum beat keeps it chilled. The guitar parts are soaring and melodic, going from both slower, psychedelic grooves in the introduction, to a manic, crazy guitar solo in the latter half of the song. The bass locks in perfectly with the drums and plays a simple yet seductive groove, providing the background for the soaring guitar parts and raspy, psychedelic vocals. Purposely bipolar in its anachronistic elements, this is my favourite track from the album and I can totally see why they chose Pacified as the single to release ahead of the album. Relatable lyrics, steady grooves and psychedelic elements add up to an outstanding track of conceptually rhythmic insentience.
City Lights (Drowning) is the second track from the album which starts with a slow bluesy walking bass line and an almost B.B. King style lead guitar part which builds to a riff -heavy crescendo in the bridge. The minor key and slower tempo at the start of the track give a very forlorn feel, and that is emphasised in the lyrics. The low voice, and lyrics in City Lights (Drowning) talk about being unable to fly, meeting someone in the dirt and “drowning all the time”.
The blues influence is clear not just through the music but the lyrics are also very melancholic, which blues vocalists are famous for. This was pronounced especially during 1930’s blues hailing from post Reconstruction-era America when the civil rights movement was still in its infancy. Due to inequalities of race, many blues artists (the majority of which were black) would lament their problems through their music. While of course four white young men from Cambridge have multiple privileges by comparison, the style of the vocals and general woeful sound of the track does harken back to those oppressed blues artists, which is a cultural and chronological juxtaposition. The chorus relies on some heavy chords and haunting piano section to create a dark heavy sound, with the sustained lead guitar solo accent the chorus until it leads into the bridge. The bridge differs greatly from the rest of the track, changing tempo with a heavy riff and pounding drums whilst the vocalists, wildly scream their heads off like wailing echos in the background. I’ve seen this performed live and when this bridge kicks in, everyone goes wild with them and it’s clear why. Like a clarion call to a young, disaffected and petrified generation, this animalistic cry draws something primitive of its audience. The track ends by harkening back to the slower heavy chorus and the last few notes are played by that same haunting piano section. An excellent blending of styles on this track create a moody yet heavy sound I’ve not heard in many bands.
Daisy Blue blasts onto the album with a ridiculously heavy, screaming riff to introduce the track before switching to a slightly more relaxed but groovy riff for a verse. With an awesome heavy breakdown and ending on that same introductory screaming riff, Daisy Blue accomplishes a lot in just over three minutes. Undoubtedly the heaviest track on the album, the main riff definitely reminds the listener of Black Sabbath and/or Alice in Chains while the breakdown is akin to more modern metal, the raspy vocals, repeating the worlds “Cry on Daisy Blue” before switching to a lower vocal for the beginning of the verse, adding to the groove. All the riffs from the guitars on Daisy Blue are excellent, ranging from groovy to heavy as hell and the screaming leads are nothing to sniff at either. The drums match the riffs perfectly, equally as heavy and groovy as the guitars. I have to also acknowledge the badass bass solo in this track, even though it’s only a bar long, it ends the breakdown and leads back into the main riff with such enigmatic style. My second favourite track on the album, Daisy Blue really punches the listener in the face. Hard.
In conclusion, So Much for the Harmony of the Day is a highly recommendable album of acoustic angst, agitation and alienation. Its title alludes to the frustrations of our collective times. The tracks discussed are only my favourites. There are still six more tracks to dive into. So Much for the Harmony of the Day is available on most platforms, and I want to personally thank Sunlight for Honey for sending me a physical copy of this awesome record to review.
Peace, Love and Cowbells,