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There is this curious equilibrium to existence: In order to create balance, the universe must giveth, and the universe must taketh. Kyle Craft, along with his now solidified backing band dubbed Showboat Honey, know this all too well. And this is why their self-titled album, the contemplative yet restless Showboat Honey (Sub Pop Records, July 12th, 2019) reflects that sturm und drang. “This is basically an album centered around bad luck and good fortune hitting at the same time,” Craft explains “Then, out of nowhere, I find love. Everything went to shit except that. I guess that’s how life works.”
No track better captures this duality than the sweeping “Sunday Driver,” about sticking to your guns, despite a universe of blowback. “At this point, you get baptized by certain fires and start to walk with the dead a little bit, like nothing can harm you anymore,” says the Portland-based musician. “That’s what self-love sounds like to me, as aggressive as that sounds.”
The sticky-sweet title of the album is lifted from the brightly choral “Buzzkill Caterwaul” (“Once you were the showboat honey/ But your ship sailed out”). “I wanted to make something that sounded like a raucous collision of Leon Russell and Patti Smith,” he says, “But ‘Buzzkill Caterwaul’ was the only tune that ended up showcasing that vision.”
Though aesthetics veer from song to song, Showboat Honey’s steadfast formula remains the same. Drummer Haven Mutlz holds down the machine with a ’60s/’70s fast-molasses groove that locks in with the slinky rolling bass of Billy Slater. When Kevin Clark isn’t bouncing across the piano, his mellotron strings swell in and out of frame. Jack of all trades Ben Steinmetz’s organ parts well up from the deep of the songs, while lead guitarist Jeremy Kale’s solos rip through them like electricity. On top of it all, sits the tongue-in-cheek phantasmagoria created by Craft’s lyrics.