Lighting up an unexpected storm with the broody synth introduction to their eponymous opener, Neon Waltz provides Honey Now as a palette cleanser to indie landfill. Hearts and heads in the right places, the mainland Scotland-formed rockers return to the fold with a memorable piece of work. Replace strings for the electronic, artificial highs of an endless synth note, backing frontman Jordan Shearer with grand observations of belonging. Lush appeal in those notes, across these ten tracks, is a rewarding listen that steadies itself and holds back from the inevitable alternative explosion. There is temptation in this first track, and far beyond Honey Now, to implode those delicate and reflection-heavy lyrics into a guitar piece, but holding firm is what Neon Waltz does best here.
Dispensing modest recollections on their return, Neon Waltz orchestrates a real mood-setter with Honey Now. From the faint lap steel and artificial creations that take the place of sickly strings to the inevitable, faster pace of As Good As Gone, the changes of the world around them are tackled head-on and with much courage. Moments of synthesizer experimentation are all but forgotten by the straight-shooting but emotionally active The Stranger Things. Heavy implementations of Oasis-like discovery and influence can be heard on the nasally but useful A Million People, a track as broad as those mentioned in the title. A song for the millions and there is no harm in featuring one or two of those on Honey Now, which glides through different sounds and experiences with no real destination in mind.
It makes for a messy yet articulate display of their talents. Honey Now is a breezy little album which has a couple of standout tracks. Neon Waltz is finding their footing once more after so many years out of sync with the independent charts and audiences. In their return comes strong track Thoughts / Dreams / Regrets, a delicate piece that rises and rises, showcasing Shearer’s vocal presence. Many of these tracks set out with this in mind, a way to focus in on their strongest presence, the defining and unique charm they have, wrapping around the vocals as best they can. It works and marks Honey Now as a fun record that does not overstay its welcome. Any more than this and Neon Waltz would tire of themselves and their sound. So too would listeners.
Out-of-step clunkiness on All I Need provides a remarkable shift of interest, the hollowed-out lyrics and the thumping guitar work, predictable yet charged, is a real high. Neon Waltz proves they are of unique material, they are not set on being driftwood in the endless sea of independent music. Honey Now gives them plenty of space to prove this and they take to the task just fine. The lull and swing of All in Good Time gives way to the ballad-like structure Shearer and company wish to pursue. It suits them to the ground and using the latter moments of the album to turn their guitar-heavy style on its head is a gamble that pays off and makes Honey Now an interesting entry point into the band but also a showcase of where they can head next.