Ever since Robert Plant uttered the words, “I watch your honeydrip, I can’t keep away,” any use of the word “honey” coupled with a vessel or delivery device — at least in a rock-’n’-roll song — has immediately evoked a certain female body part. Honeydripper, honey pot, honey trap — all undeniably euphemistic if utterly sexist.
I’m positive that notion was the furthest thing from the minds of the members of Jacksonville’s Honey Chamber when they named their band and eponymous third album, but I can’t help but make the leap. I’ll try to put it aside, for now, but the fact that that band creates a post-millennial version of ambient ’60s pop doesn’t help matters.
Still, I’ll do my best.
Album opener “Parasite Lost” would’ve fit right in during the early days of the Fillmore West, with a psychedelic light show and go-go dancers in paisley mini-skirts flanking the stage. (Keep mind on task. Keep mind on task.) It sets the tone for the album perfectly, as the band rarely veers from its formula — which is a good one, to be sure.
The second tune, “Grudges & Revisions,” could have used some revisions, namely the dropped snare beat in the ninth measure. (Yes, I counted.) Maybe they were trying to maintain a live, garage-y feel, but good-freaking-God, that single misplaced beat had me backtracking several times to check myself. The Amboy Dukes-style vocal arrangement makes up for it — kinda. And the mistake did take my head off honey, at least for the moment.
“Maria” follows, another hip-shaker and possibly the coolest tune on the record, though “Baby It’s a Raw Deal” is also a contender. Very psyched-out, fuzz-toney pop, and no dropped snare beats getting in the way. “Wasp Honey” is pretty cool, but skip “Salad Days.” It’s a throwaway, too modern in this context, and pales in comparison to the others.
“At Sea with You” brings it back, with washy, trippy, ’verbed-out harmonicas and hard tremolo guitars supporting a cheesy love song about honey … I mean, getting lost on the big blue with a lover. Bookending the collection is “Fool’s Parasite,” though in the song, they sing about “fool’s paradise.” The whole parasite thing has killed any romantic (or otherwise amorous) interpretations of the band’s name for me. Which might be a good thing. Still, in spite of its few missteps — maybe even because of them — this is a great record.
The band released the CD in 2012 — we’re a little late to the party — but they’re pushing it now because the vinyl was just recently released. But in any event, it’s out, so pick it up … you know, if you’re into psychedelic pop and that delicious, golden, pollen-derived bee product. Honey Chamber is available at Deep Search Records in Riverside on vinyl and CD. It’s also available on vinyl at any Honey Chamber show and via digital download at honeychamber.bandcamp.com.