Honey Joy – ‘II’

By Eloise Bulmer

Honey Joy’s second album, aptly named ‘II’, was written in the midst of health concerns and time off to focus on recovery. Vocalist Meg Tinsley was signed off from working as a nurse due to struggles with her mental health when the first half of the record was written; the second half she wrote after the fact, using the creative process to bolster her journey to self love.

It follows then that the first half of the album is an expulsion of the fears and anxieties that come with illness, featuring strained and unruly vocals over tangled guitar riffs which move between biting and gritty, providing an undergrowth for reflections on pain made within a haze of discomfort.

On ‘Pain’, Tinsley goads: “Pain / go ahead and scream at me / say every word you ever heard”, provoking in such a way that it’s clear she just needs something, anything to happen in the face of failed relief. Whilst we’re all living in a world that’s been upended, it’s refreshing and cathartic to hear such a sensitive topic embraced in the way it is here; the hurt and anxiety being felt and then channelled into songs that both confront and soothe.

On the latter half of the album, ‘Raising Boys’ moves along a veering guitar riff, contrasting with a more static vocal melody that questions: “Did he ever tell you that he wasn’t okay? / The softest soul, a loving heart,” opposing toxic masculinity with compassion. Although the album sounds confrontational, the lyrics are gently inquisitive and empowering.

On ‘The Healer’, the listener is encouraged to “give yourself the break you give others / love yourself the way you do others”, again extending compassion, this time to those on their own journey of self love, whilst delineating the shift in headspace on the record.

The final track ‘Saluting Magpies’ is a culmination of this journey, acknowledging the darkness than can overwhelm us whilst defiantly moving through it, always searching and reaching for that escape route: “I’m still saluting magpies / like it’s the only thing keeping me alive.” It traverses two sides of the same coin, taking us to a place that’s dark and desolate but managing to scour the ground and find promise of better days to aid the journey.

‘II’ is a frantic record, the sound of emotional turmoil set down in the studio. Despite this exterior, at its core it’s a balm for the rougher parts of life.

ELOISE BULMER

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