Pale Waves – ‘There’s A Honey’
It’s been far too long since we gave you some fresh bops on these pages, so it seems only fitting to get back into the swing of things with one that’s been on constant rotation for well over two years chez bop. We do this with good reason, at least – while Pale Waves may have made their inaugural Dirty Hit splash with ‘There’s A Honey’ the February before the February before last, it’s only now getting the re-push that is customary for standout debut singles once more than seven people actually know who the hell the artists are.
In this case it’s a little bit bittersweet, because ‘There’s A Honey’ pegs Pale Waves as a far superior band to the one they ended up tediously dawdling around as on last summer’s My Mind Makes Noises. The album makes it perfectly evident that their assumed duty is to skirt somewhere in between the vivid, happy-go-lucky sounds of the ’80s and the bleak-for-the-sake-of-bleak (wannabe) Gen Z oeuvre currently spearheaded by Billie Eilish, and the result is 50 awfully blunt minutes of Heather Baron-Gracie strain and carbon copy riffs over subtle Ciára Doran tempo variations. Granted, giving it another chance six-and-a-bit months on while writing this didn’t draw out quite as much ire as it did on the first couple of attempts, but it takes until ‘Black’ – the penultimate track – for the album to begin to shift gears away from the molasses-slow homogeneous tedium that is the remainder of their discography.
Belated venting aside, where ‘There’s A Honey’ stands out is through capturing a side of the band rich with ineffable verve and flair, which I’m probably far from alone in preferring to the feeling of clogged sinuses and condescending aversion to lyrical nuance. Come the album, the song did get ever so slightly bloated, picking up four extra seconds and somewhat questionable remastering when Matty Healy and George Daniel’s handiwork on it (and second single ‘Television Romance’) was brought a bit more into the company line by LP producer Jon Gilmore. But, if you hadn’t spent an entire spring as utterly smitten with the delicately zingier vintage edition, then there’s every chance you wouldn’t even have noticed without me needlessly bringing it up here.
Even if you had realised, or you’re completely new to the whole thing – in which case, I’m insanely jealous, because you’re about to listen to a real gem for the very first time and I truly wish I could share that experience – the new sheen (or lack thereof) can’t take away from the core of the song that made the band so astonishingly promising all that time ago., with ‘There’s A Honey’ equal parts heart-crumpling confusion, unfettered devotion, tender vulnerability, and melodic catnip. With any luck, this’ll be the final single release from My Mind Makes Noises and the Mancunian quartet will pop back up in a year or two with something just as special, or at least some sort of sign that the golden spark that gave us this charismatic entrance hasn’t entirely faded out. Though the pessimist in me would note that history dictates that more often than not everything ends up falling flat in these situations, it’s records like this that keep me in hope.
Oh, by the way: the video version still seems to have the original 2017 mix with a more ethereal tone to the vocals and less of the rude guitar countermelody in the middle of the chorus. You’re welcome.