The Johannesburg-based rock group Pollinator is relatively new on the scene, but has been making tongues wag as a live act with immense chutzpah. The energy that Evert Snyman (vocals, guitar), Louise Eksteen (vocals, bass) and Tim Edwards (vocals, drums) eject has set many venues alight. The question is whether their debut album, Honeyeaters, will ignite the same fire in the hearts of music lovers.
The so-dirty-that-it-is-good guitar riff that announces the album on the opening track Keep-Her, instantly reminded me of Wolfmother’s sound. The mix is grungy and raw and I can imagine that is has an inebriating effect on crowds. Evert’s vocals bring to mind the vocals of Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys – the same easy-listening, yet wide-ranging, element. The build-up climaxes in an epic instrumental battle between guitar and drums and it’s up to the listener to decide who wins. The playful juxtaposition of male and female vocals is cleverly implemented and is used again on later tracks. Motivational Speaker follows where Keep-Her ended and it’s easy to hear why the band decided on this song as their first single of the album. An easy drum beat drives the song, whilst a catchy chorus gets you singing along in no time.
Tracks three and four casually continue the filthy goodness, but regrettably the album starts to sound like one long song, as the gears aren’t changed up very much. However, just before I lost all hope, Pollinator switches things up on Tresspasses, as Louise takes on the main vocals. She reminds me of Gwen Stefani in No Doubt’s earlier days – a feminine, vulnerable approach, but still gutsy and voracious.
Hacksaw brings the male and female vocal together in perfect harmony and on Duped those majestic instrumentals are worth a raging applause. The latter’s lyrics is also one of the smartest on the album: the subject matter of a lost lover is illustrated by means of clever metaphors. The closing track, Shimmering Gold, stands in vast contrast to the rest of the upbeat track listing. A lazy groove underlies the rather melancholy thematic matter at hand.
Pollinator brings something different to the table in the sense that they use a male and female voice, together with a variety of moods and feels. In saying that, the danger for them as band is that listeners will struggle to pinpoint them in the masses of local sounds. It’s imperative for bands to create a sound that is undoubtedly unique and distinguishable and I’m afraid Pollinator lacks in that department.
They are without a doubt a talented trio and their years involved in other popular bands have certainly paid off. Each instrument is masterfully used to create their chosen sound and the vocals complements each song’s lyrical beauty. Talking about lyrics: the band impresses with their crafty songwriting skills. Intricate verses are contrasted with easier comprehensible choruses that are repeated without becoming monotonous.
On the production side of things, I do believe Pollinator could have pulled out more stops. Acts like Foo Fighters and Jack White have proved that the grunge element is possible amidst clean-cut production and mixing. In fact, the better the mix, the better the grunge element comes to light. Pollinator skimped on the technical side, but there will hopefully be a second album to improve on this crucial part of an album’s creation.
Pollinator’s unyielding love for their musical craft shines through on this confident debut offering. The ten-track Honeyeaters is sure to make you sit up straight and be proud of where the local music industry is heading in terms of diversity and allure.
Honeyeaters is available on Bandcamp.