Our attention was first given a tasty prod by UK melodic punksters Healthy Junkies back in 2011 by their track Manifesto taken from debut album Sick Note, its impressive enticement soon backed up once discovering the singles Copycat and Trash My Love. There was a certain promise and persuasion about the songs which made you suspect that the band had even greater moments and triumphs up their sleeve. The release of new album The Lost Refuge proves that that hope and assumption was more than valid, in fact such the exciting invention and presence of the release it shows maybe a depth of underestimation was at play too.
The seeds of the London based band came with the meeting of Parisian vocalist Nina Courson and guitarist Phil Honey-Jones at the venue Punk in Soho in 2009. Each in different bands, they found a mutual love and sharing of inspirations which fired up their individual creativity, influences that included the likes of Iggy Pop, Nirvana, The Doors, Blondie, Killing Joke and Sonic Youth. Linking up they were soon joined by drummer Adam Lewis and bassist Tjay Tarantino. Lewis recorded the two previously mentioned singles, and also plays on one of the tracks on The Lost Refuge, before leaving with Steve Nightmare taking over the sticks. From their first gig at an all-day punk festival in Brighton in 2010 the band has gone on to play with great success numerous shows across the UK including headlining the new band stage at the 2012 Rebellion punk festival and this year having their new album’s launch party again at the Rebellion Festivals in August, a show which saw Danny Fury (Lords of the New Church, Sham69) on drums and Dave Renegade on bass in a changed line-up since the recording of the album.
Signing with STP Records for the release of The Lost Refuge earlier this year has given Healthy Junkies a stronger platform to launch the album from, though you can only feel it would make its mark such the quality and devilish temptation. The release opens with Resistance, riffs and harmonies teasing around the firm rhythms to fully engage the ear before the song hits its stride. With sonic lures riding the senses alongside the strong vocals of Courson, the track makes a satisfying introduction if a slightly underwhelming one, especially when compared to previous songs and the suggested heights they offered ahead. Nevertheless there is little wrong with the song just a lack of a gripping bait or spark to ignite thoughts and emotions.
There is no such problem from the second song on though, the album unleashing a mischief and contagious invention which now confirms and extends those earlier hopes and sets fire to the passions. Spoilt Brat offers a restrained chug of a persuasion initially as the dual vocals work their temptation. The thumping beats and moody bassline flicks more switches as the song erupts into a thrilling blaze of aural and lyrical attitude which takes hold of the emotion’s shoulders and leads them on a pop punk lilted stroll of undoubted quality. The band reminds of eighties pop punk band The Photos as the track dances on the ear which only adds to the pleasure. It is instantly followed by the excellent Play Me and its coaxing of grazing riffs and jabbing rhythms. Once in full flow with hooks and melodies laying deep barbs in the passions, the track is a fiery stomp with a blues flame to the solo and seductive licks to the vocals, especially in the restrained moments before the song bursts into sonic crescendos.
From one major pinnacle the album steps into another and the magnificent Scam Update. Coated in a definite Penetration like confrontation and old school punk urgency yet with a melodic indie breath, the track is an enthralling and magnetic glory, the little twists of ska punk strokes and grungy intensity imaginative manna. It probably takes the best song award though it does change with each listen as the likes of the next up pair of If You Talk To Her and Swansong as examples, challenge each and every time. The first of the pair casts a sinister cosmic wash over the listener before a pulsating bass tango avails the song of its charms amidst the cracking rhythmic cage set by Nightmare. In full flight the song is a sonic thrill with a whiff of wantonness and surf rock to its invention and scent of sultry melodic sex to its dance. A scintillating and irresistible provocateur it is soon matched by its successor and its cantankerous vaunt, its rhythmic slavery as inescapable as the vocal enticement and the near on psychobilly guitar mystique which strokes the imagination before launching into a raw and rewarding riot. It is another major highlight in so many.
The fun and decent enough cover of La Vie En Rose is followed by the pleasing prowling sleek Cat Story, with Lewis on drums, and Mad Parade with its hungry riffs and throaty bass call seizing the ear tightly for the playful keys brought by Honey-Jones to whip up another rise of appetite especially with the musicians equally impressive guitar ingenuity. Old school pop punk with a muscular heart and steely frame, the song is another deviously potent suasion and yet one more exciting treat.
The quality and triumphs just keep coming, the likes of the bewitching and elegantly forceful Shine A Line and the charismatically riveting and rapacious Witches Of Lust unleashing in their own unique ways more punk alchemy to enslave the passions. The album as a whole is diverse and inventively distinct from song to song, the final pair of the pop rock shaped Coz It Sucks and the magnificent Sex War with its dub scythes of invention stoking the fires as melodic pop flames to fly whilst the vocals of Courson and Honey-Jones create a sizzling duelling attack. Ruts meets Dangerous Girls with Pauline Murray at the helm, the track is a mighty end to a robustly thrilling album. Healthy Junkies have come of age and you only sense they will get better. A must investigate release!
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