With some bands even given the surprises found in any new release you kind of know what you are in for sound wise and with others it is far harder to predict what might be in store. UK punksters, Healthy Junkies firmly frequent the latter camp as proven with each of their previous four albums and fair to say that again with their new full-length, Forever On The Road, they caught us out at every twist and turn resulting in one of the most fascinating and enjoyable encounters this year.
Forever On The Road is the soundtrack to their autumn USA tour of 2018 and initially was written as an instrumental to soundtrack their new DVD On The Road In The USA. Made during the recent Lockdown, the London based band have subsequently decided to release the album in two parts with this the first, the release embracing moments of atmospheric reflection, sonic realisation and cinematic intimation amidst just as connecting fully fledged rock songs. It is also a compelling adventure into the ever evolving creativity of vocalist Nina Courson and guitarist/vocalist Phil Honey-Jones, a record which had the imagination flitting off in tangents whilst being fully engaged in the band’s extensive musical road trip.
The Intro to Forever On The Road is a continuation from the end of our last album Delirious Dream, a piece full of tension and anticipation for the adventure ahead and one which immediately erupts with latest single, Last Day In L.A. The track is a fusion of familiar Healthy Junkies prowess and their ever genre embracing rock ‘n’ roll within which the Parisian tones of Courson as ever make for a captivating invitation. The sounds around her easily arouse with their energy and creatively rebelliousness within instinctive pumped up catchiness; celebration of what was and what is to come in its roar.
The instrumental pieces within the release all tell their own story of the band’s time in the US, each a reflection of an intimate moment and emotion for the band and suggestive manifestation for the listener. Beat box L.A. is the first, its initial piano and guitar woven reflection and rhythmic urging a magnetic pull into the imagination stirring ambience of its atmospheric rumination. Each piece within the album provoked ears and thoughts into an eager embrace with the band’s reflective experiences; the enthralling almost sinister surrounding of Halloween in L.A., the raw at times distorted breath and manipulation of En route to San Diego, and the crepuscular indeed darkly creepy The sunlight has gone personal favourites, each and especially the latter pure cinematic beauty in their individual ways.
Amongst these potent incitements, Healthy Junkies equally ignited the senses with songs new and some like Transportation which first emerged in previous histories of the band’s members; this track Honey-Jones previously recorded with earlier band Nurotica. Dub induced and psych punk spun, the track is simultaneously skittish, agitated and resourcefully composed not forgetting fully addictive.
The brief and fiery Sunset strip sees the band draw on eighties sleaze and hard rock essences to flavour their tour across its fame while Give me back my kiss finds a dirtier punk breath equipping their creative hunger, its attitude defiant and breath invasive. Each epitomises the diversity in the album aside of that found in its instrumental explorations, the outstanding Mayday taking favourite album moment with its grunge bred, punk trespassed incitement. A track which perfectly fits the global grip and distress the world is currently seized by; it bears a certain Nirvana-esque inspiration in its torment and mania which is openly revealed in the band’s irresistible cover of Something in the way, Courson siren like in its harmonic and scuzzy rapture.
Between the two tracks lies Streets of Olympia, a burst of adrenaline and spirit which is all animation and energy in its eagerness even as its tone subsequently and rebelliousness flies in the face of expected celebration. It is the warped enterprise of the keys which hones that rebelliousness and had us even more keenly licking lips.
It is fair to say that every moment within Forever On The Road had us hooked, the final trio of Underground City with its noir lit dark drama and evolving calm and peace increasingly challenged by tension, Walking away with its wistful occasionally bordering melancholic reflection, and the virulent punk ‘n’ roll clad Tricky situation no exception. Even after numerous listens the album continues to evoke new feelings and reveal further aspects to its triumph; quite simply Forever On The Road one of the years must explore adventures.
Forever On The Road is out now via Banana Castle; available @ https://healthyjunkies1.bandcamp.com/
Pete RingMaster 05/10/2020