London quartet Stereo Honey have been steadily gaining momentum since their introduction in January of 2017. The hype train was quick to pinpoint the band, noticing their potential and natural skill for crafting poised cinematics of sound. And there’s much validity to those wishing them endurance and prosperity: the four-piece cover topics that are rarely awarded such spotlight, focusing their writing on narrative-driven arcs of meaning and significance with due sensitivity and care. Emboldening voices to reach further with a passion of scintillating guitar music propelling these important messages forward.
Each piece of music that Stereo Honey have released up to now has been distinct, enveloping striking emotional content with movements of melody and an eagerness of pace with slowly unfolding atmospheric progression. Affecting vocals underpin every moment, enrapturing and encompassing Stereo Honey’s intense but evocative allure. Pete Restrick holds majesty in moody, invigorating form casting out breathy caresses of rugged sensuality yet the main focus point, unforgettably, is his masterful falsetto croon – beautifully owned and scaled for towering effect.
On the surface the writing can easily be taken at face value (however the listener reads the song) but to neglect the underlying context of the lyrics is to overlook the sinuosity of Stereo Honey – the intricate way the lyrics are formed reveals a band idiosyncratic to mainstream propositions, the attention to detail highlights their great ideas and lifts their writing to places of esteem. ‘Where No One Knows Your Name‘ is a fantastic example of how unassuming but astonishingly layered the band’s writing is, divulging information beyond a listeners’ first impression, the band explain that, “‘Where No One Knows Your Name’ is a song about mental illness. Peter wrote the lyrics trying to get to grips with the interiority you feel when suffering with anxiety. Essentially, the song is about retreating inside of your own head when the world outside feels hostile and overwhelming. We tried to write the track in a way that emulates the rush of a panic attack, by moving from the steadiness of the verses into sudden, explosive choruses.”
‘The Heart‘ continues the band’s willingness to address deeper issues, specifically relationship abuse. In this release we are treated to two versions of the track, both share a central sentimental backbone and root out the ingrained sadness of the subject. The single cut provides a buoyancy within its bars, particularly emphasized by its use of funky guitars and airy reverberations bringing a certain resemblance of Wild Beasts to the fore. The accompanying piano version is wholly nuanced in comparison, stripped to just voice and singular instrument this rendition is overwhelmingly exposed (and all the more startling for it). Restrick’s intensity is bewitching but it’s within the softer cadences of elongated notes where the real impact achieves lingering sensation – simply, Restrick uncovers a moment of complete purity.
When the time came to release a full EP, the band were already on track towards a bustling 2018. ‘Monuments‘ contains four stunning tracks (perhaps some of the band’s most memorable work to date), all of which were awarded an acoustic counterpart in a companion piece released a few months later. Circulating around common themes, the release envisages narratives relating to structural landmarks and historical events, including the Angel of North (‘Angel‘) and the tragic cockling disaster of Morecambe Bay (‘The Bay‘). ‘The Bay’ is clearly the lead track, a thumping rhythm dances percussively around faded synths before Restrick’s unhurried restraint appears once the scene is set, maybe a hint towards the dreamlike but lasting resilience of the sea. ‘The Bay’ is a seriously sublime display of where the band are heading at this point, considered musicianship guiding profound ambition – indie guitars taking a decisive route away from the contrived to spaces of exploration and groundbreaking vision.
‘Through the Dark‘ offers scope for escapism with expansive tones and an adventurous spirit, the guitars coupled with ambient synths blow through the speakers visiting tremendous sweeping vistas along the way. Songs this musically imposing collide with your being and leave splinters behind; in my opinion music should create moments of this nature, as a listener I hope to be moved, informed, challenged and emotionally invested – Stereo Honey manage to cover all of those areas and more. For their first release on LAB Records, ‘What Makes A Man‘ presented another vastly competent slice of swooning indie rock compelled once more by intelligent subject matter: “’What Makes A Man’ is loosely based around the Emma Payne poem ‘The Boxer’ in that it concerns a figure that starts to unravel. In the song the figure, like the boxer, is broken, clinging to some vestige of manhood even as it reveals itself to be fantasy. And yet, this figure clings to this fantasy with desperation, because it’s the only thing that is known to it. Masculinity is regressive, it teaches young boys not to show vulnerability, not to talk about their feelings, never to show weakness, not to be afraid…” says Restrick.
The most recent single, ‘Don’t Speak‘ looks closer at hook-driven artistry – spurred on by soft/heavy dynamics, the chorus is where we experience the full power of soaring wall-of-sound potency, the only drawback of this technique is that it fuels a busy arrangement which distracts for an engaged listen but instead, exhilarates. The quieter moments allow time for composure yet still feel a little unsettled, echoing the unbalanced nature of the lyrics in a deteriorating structure, “’Don’t Speak’ is a song written from depression’s point of view,” explains Restrick. “A man lies alone, locked in some kind of terrible limbo, neither able to dream, nor able to wake up, neither able to live, but unable to die. His body carries its own twisted life force, like a heartbeat that continues on despite the body having already depreciated.”
Stereo Honey have covered remarkable ground in the short time they’ve been active, forging a unique identity of absorbing musicality and emotive depth. The band’s rousing blend of indie rock, electronica and alternative pop is certain to expand horizons and hoist their name to star-spangled altitudes. Until then, we enjoy a discography filled with invigorating compositions and thought-provoking enterprise.
Throughout October, Stereo Honey will be touring the UK bringing their headline set to a venue near you – tickets are available here.