When I think of punk, my mind usually drifts towards the harsher acts – The Sex Pistols, Sham 69 and the like. However, like rock and metal, punk is a wide-ranging field with acts all over the mohawked spectrum. Here’s one that fits into the smoother end of things, Healthy Junkies.
The band do cite more influences than just the classic punk acts – mainly grunge and garage bands. This shows in their tempered yet still rebellious sound. Singer Nina Courson has a voice that makes me think of The Dollyrots’ Kelly at times, Debbie Harry at others. In other words, she has range and is up there with the best.
In terms of punkiness, Healthy Junkies are akin to The Stranglers – rocky, but with a punk background. Fairly laid back, throwing in some nice riffs that just worm their way into your head and curl up there to fester and pop back into your ear at odd moments. “This Is Not A Suicide” kicks off sounding as raw as a Motorhead number, and ploughs on letting nothing stand in its way. It’s counterpointed with the likes of “Some Kind Of Girl” which is far more experimental and ethereal.
It’s interesting to note that the band do still rage against “the system” somewhat in their lyrics, but that said system can also include the music industry of which they themselves are a part. “Meet & Greet” is a pretty traditional punker with a simple message: “why do bands feel the need to charge up to fifty quid to meet the fans?” Obviously HJ weren’t eyeing up the recent Metallica and Hollywood Vampire tours where the meet & greet was into four figures for some packages, but the question is a popular one on fan forums, and it’s interesting to hear a band raise it in a song.
So musically, they’re all over the place but still tight. The production is excellent, too. Vocals are front and centre but wrapped in the music rather than trampling all over it, and you can hear the bass notes throughout which makes a pleasant change. They like to throw in a curveball here and there as well. “This Condition”, for example, is one of the best tracks on the album and features one of the other band members on vocals with Nina covering backing tracks.
Chuck in a cover of “These Boots…” and you have a wonderfully eclectic mix. Fifteen tracks of varying lengths, but nothing which is so short that it shouldn’t really count or so long that you get bored. With the band playing live a fair bit, it’s worth getting hold of Delirious Dream on release so you have a chance to get all these songs down pat before you go and see them! You can catch the band at The Unicorn in Camden on the 12th, before they head for the US – and then they’re “touring” Scotland early next year.
Delirious Dream is out on October 19th