Album Review: Lungbutter – Honey

By Madison Palmer

There has been, for many years, a dichotomous debate in regards to consuming music: is it better recorded or live? I can’t think of anything more disappointing than seeing your favourite band play live for the first time only to have the music be void of the personality which initially attracted you to it.

On the other hand, it is equally disappointing to discover a new band live, be enticed into listening to their latest EP, only to find that the energy and vigour which you loved so much during their set to be confined to that set alone. “When will this musical catfishing end?” you wonder. Luckily for you (and me, and everyone), Montreal based trio Lungbutter provides the best of both worlds.

The group formed back in 2013, the band is made up of vocalist Ky Brooks, guitarist Kaity Zozula, and former CKUT music director Joni Sadler  rockin’ it on drums.

Despite this minimalist set up the band possesses energy which compresses more power than even a  five or six piece band. The noise-rock trio has opened for bands like Psychic TV, Perfect Pussy, and Yamantaka//Sonic Titan and has also played the OBEY Convention in Halifax, and POP Montreal and Suoni Per II Popolo here in Montreal.

 Their debut album Honey was released on May 31st, 2019 on Constellation Records, and will surely cement the trio’s place as one of this city’s most iconic bands. The album opens with the title song “Honey” and features Zozula’s classic guitar style: heavy distortion, impressively obtrusive and yet strictly melodic. These opening 50 seconds invoked in me an excitement for this album the same way I would be for a live show. The spoken quality of Brook’s voice fuels the energy of the album. Combining this chanted style with frequently repeated lyrics creates an atmosphere that is incredibly catchy and high powered, making “Honey” the perfect opening song for a Lungbutter album.

Over the course of 34 minutes, 11 songs perfectly fall into each other. Their relatively shortlength (the longest one being the closer, “Veneer”, at five minutes and 29 seconds) makes it easy to absorb the album in one sitting, and I would go as far as saying that this is essential for first time listeners of both the band in general and the album specifically. While all these songs are strong in their own right, I want to highlight a few of my personal favourites.

“Flat White” is the fourth song and one of two singles on the album. Matching the rhythmic, chanting style of “Honey” “Flat White” captures the visceral, raw emotion of this album better than any of the other tracks. “Intrinsic” is the seventh song and the second single on the Honey. The song encapsulating a similar sound to Pixie’s Surfer Rosa album, featuring a slow and heavily rhythmic intro which erupts at around three minutes in. The context of the rhetorical questioning of the lyrics shifts drastically with the tempo change, giving the repeated intro lyrics “having a future/it makes a difference” a heightened sense of urgency.

Finally, the holder of my favourite title on Honey goes to “Depanneur Sun”. The lyrics “I love myself through books, pottery and so on/yet I will never finish my book” spoken with Brook’s tone and infuused with Zozula and Sadler’s instrumentation lend a sense of angry and stubborn self-love.

Due to its largely instrumental nature, “Veneer” serves as the perfect epilogue to the high intensity of the preceding 10 songs. It gives the listener room to reflect the lyrics they’ve heard and leaves them with a sense of closure. The entire album weaves together with perfect precision: every song is exactly where its supposed to be, and every note is exactly where it should be. The ability for an album to sound so hectic and so controlled at the same time is nothing short of masterful.

I highly recommend Honey a listen and also check out Lungbutter at Suoni Per II Popolo this summer on June 15th.