Album Reviews

Honey Ryder – Rising Up

(Autonomy) UK release date: 13 October 2008

Now here is a story for our times. London-based duo Martyn Shone and Lindsay O’Mahony are financing their debut album with a share-based funding model, selling shares in the future profits they expect to generate.

Formed by an ex-banker and a former MTV employee, Honey Ryder also opt for a high profile band name. Type Honey Ryder into a search engine and you will see endless images of Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in her white bikini, fortunately after a link to the duo’s MySpace site.

All of which should make any self-respecting music fan run screaming from the room. But tarry a while dear reader, it is my duty to discover if there is any substance beneath the surface gloss.

I was beginning to wonder so after repeated plays of Rising Up had failed to register any emotional connection in that part of my brain that responds to such things. Sure, the album sounds good enough – all slick pop rock with big choruses and pretty ballads. Just like your average Fleetwood Mac album, no? Well no, because there is certainly grit in the pearl wherever Lindsey Buckingham is present and, sorry, but I just don’t hear that here.

Left with no choice but to write about a bunch of songs with little or no lasting impact, I’m left to pick and select the tracks with the best melodies. Unfortunately, Shone and O’Mahony choose to open the album with their two best shots. That said, even though it boasts a pretty melody, the opening Fly Away sounds like a remnant of the ’90s (notably The Cranberries). Meanwhile, Numb is all rock chick swagger and sway in a nod to the glory days of the early naughties.

And then… well, not a lot really. The mix of melodic pop and hard rock guitars is repeated ad nauseam throughout the rest of the album, almost without fail save a couple of drippy ballads. And even those can’t resist the urge to rock out as the song progresses. Shone is a competent enough guitar player but he indulges himself far too much, perhaps to compensate for O’Mahony’s paper-thin vocals.

Lyrically there is nothing going on here that you wouldn’t have heard a thousand times before, all moon and June rhyming and shallow sentimentality. Really, it comes as a major shock to learn the duo aren’t from California.

Maybe it’s the future of corporate rock, maybe a commentary on our media-suffused music industry. Or maybe Honey Ryder are just a middling pop band with no discernible identity apart from that share-based funding malarkey.

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Honey Ryder – Rising Up