‘These lads are barely out of their teens and they play with a youthful, nerve shredding verve. Old people may need to pause every now and then to catch their breath, or rearrange their thoughts‘ – Honningbarna make Dara Higgins feel old.
Whatever the fuck is going on in this album by Honnigbara, told to us entirely in Norwegian, I like it. Not having a monkey what the lads are saying is liberating actually. All we need worry about is what they playing.
These young lads were not born back when the touchstones they reference repeatedly here were releasing their first records. There’s a Tom Morello twang to the guitars, an Ian MacKaye bellowing in the backing vocals, there’s plenty of nods to early nineties American Punk Rawk. You know the type: punk that is tight, rehearsed, polished, not that anyone-can-play-three-chords shit the Brits tried to peddle back in 76. Opening track ‘Dødtid’ has a buzzing wasp of a riff that demands your attention, causes the head to go off on its own, banging away. ‘Tynn Is’ starts off like an AC/DC number, before hitting the same notes as before. They do like their call and response vocals. The response being a scream, of course. It must be murder on their collective larynxes. Youth, eh?
‘Fuck Kunst (Dans Dans)’ is, undoubtedly, song title of the year thus far. The song is two minutes of pummeling Sham 69 rock, of course. The title track fades out with a bit of cello. Apparently lead singer Edvard Valberg plays the cello, but the instrument is only really noticeable on this track.
It gets a little relentless after a while. These lads are barely out of their teens and they play with a youthful, nerve shredding verve. Old people may need to pause every now and then to catch their breath, or rearrange their thoughts. It’s pretty much nonstop shouting and hammering from the get go. They’re clever enough to break it up with interludes, some blazing row (In Norge, naturally) on ‘Sinna Dame’, getting some kids to sing the chorus, little tricks like this. Of course in my non-polyglottal ignorance I have no fucking idea what they’re saying, but I’m vaguely aware that they have political notions. One of them is their decision to not sing in English – why should they? However, there’s a lot of words, a lot of shouting, a lot to say. It’s a lot of information to have no clue about.
My spidey senses tell me that the first couple of tunes are the best ones, but that’s because the idiom within which they work has yet to become over familiar. They get out just ahead of the point where it becomes grating, the 13 tracks here being just a little over half an hour in duration. Honnigbarna have a reputation as a ferocious live band, and the ebullient energy and self confidence comes off them like sparks. I suspect they’ll be festival darlings before too long, but they’ll need to expand their repertoire of ideas if they still envisage themselves shouting at one another by the time they’re, ummmm, twenty three.