Even at HONEYMOAN’s very first jam in their native Cape Town, it was clear they had a rare creative spark. By the end of day one they had already produced two ready-made bangers –the bracing guitar-driven rush of ‘</3’, and the slick down-tempo earworm ‘We’ –that were only a taste of what was to come. That spark has now been fanned into an intense flame. HONEYMOAN, consisting of frontwoman Alison Rachel, multi-instrumentalist Skye McInnes who she’s known since their teenage years, and producer Josh Berry, are fast hurtling towards the release of their debut album ‘Sorry Like You Mean It’
.It’s a record of enormous scope, from the dynamic psychedelic pop of ‘Sit Right’ to the bracing electroclash odyssey ‘Bad News’; gritty pop-punk on ‘Sorry Like You Mean It’ to afropop-indebted grooves on ‘Pickup, Don’t Pickup’; to a masterpiece in melancholia on indie-tinged lead single ‘Shortcuts’. At ease in every one of the record’s myriad styles, Alison’s lyrics delve deep into the personal.
“I draw inspiration from the experiences that I have with people, often romantic,” she explains. “Most of the songs represent an encounter with someone in particular, some quite profound, some more playful and silly.” If there’s a theme that runs through most of the record, she explains, “it’s my love life.” From that broad subject she draws relatable and accessible tales –mismatched desires (‘Bad News’), sheepishness about revealing a cringey new partner to your friends (‘Show You Off’), and righteous rage after an ex’s infidelity (‘Pickup, Don’t Pickup’).
There are deeper moments on the record too. ‘Seriously, Good Luck With That’ is a nuanced psychoanalysis of a toxic former partner, “when someone is deeply wounded and it manifests as them behaving a bit like a piece of shit.” ‘Sorry Like You Mean It’ explores the often contradictory emotions that surround dating someone with mental health issues. “The lyrics present this idea, ‘make a fist or hold a hand’ like everyone has a choice in how to use the energy they have.”
Now based in London, HONEYMOAN’s journey to this assured point has been turbulent, seeing the trio operate at times with members scattered across different continents, and maintaining momentum through the coronavirus pandemic, but whatever has come their way they’ve never lost that sense of creative freedom that was there from the start. “We’ve always managed to maintain that energy of playing for fun,” Alison says.
Their roles in the band are balanced and well-defined. Skye works out the group’s infectious instrumentals primarily on guitar and Alison handles vocals and lyrics, both placing emphasis on hooks and maximum impact. Then, it’s Josh’s turn. As a producer he’s been using HONEYMOAN to sharpen his skills to a razor’s edge and is by now a master of his craft. Thanks to him, their songs bustle and fizz with texture –blasts of synth here, slick and innately danceable basslines there. That said, the three are wary not to rely entirely on his wizardry. “One thing we were very aware of with the new album was making sure that the songs still stand up on their own. They should be able to be stripped down to just guitar and vocals and still slap.”