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On "Belly Empty" Honeyyycrush owns her own hunger and perhaps provokes your own

On "Belly Empty" Honeyyycrush owns her own hunger and perhaps provokes your own

From the looks of it Honeyyycrush either owns a keyboard with a sticky ‘Y’ key or maybe she’s just a big fan of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs tho I’d guess more “Maps” than “Y Control” (ironic!) but who knows (we don’t!) and come to think of it Honeyyycrush’s new single “Belly Empty” wouldn’t sound too out of place on the new YYY's album Cool It Down...

…and as evidence allow me to quote from Pitchfork’s review of that very album’s lead-off single “Spitting Off the Edge of the World” where Ryan Dombal writes that SOtEotW is “set off by the kind of horizon-expanding synths you’d expect to find on an opus by M83 or Vangelis. Karen’s delivery is painfully vulnerable one moment and strident the next, pinging between existential hopelessness and mighty resistance”…

…a quote that pretty well sums up “Belly Empty” as well even if it’s more of a slow-burn type of number (closer to “Lovebomb” in fact!) and the “horizon-expanding keyboards” in question are also guitars and just in case the YYY’s aren’t your thing I’d say you could also fruitfully compare Honeyyyycrush’s repertoire so far to Mazzy Star or Marissa Nadler or Chelsea Wolf and I’m hoping quoting almost two full sentences from a Pitchfork review isn’t considered plagiarism even when attributed…

…and what the hell I may as well double down and steal directly from Honeyyyyyycrush herself who posts blogger-friendly word clouds for her songs on TikTok like “Belly Empty” for instance geta broken down as “glittering grungy….big drum…slinky bass line…haunting…alt-indie rock" and in another post as a song for all those who enjoy “drowning in reverb…gritty guitars…airy vocals…warm Jazzmaster tones…uniques voices…’90s alt rock/indie folk” (see the ripped video above!) which perfectly summarizes the overall musical vibe so thanks for that (!) and then over on the offical IG acccount there’s the following summary of “Belly Empty” more from a lyrical standpoint…

.…a song about embracing your flaws without shame and maybe reveling in them. It’s about being down in the muck of yourself and not taking the moral high ground. It’s not an anthem about evolving or improving. When you’re down in the shit, you don’t want to come out. Sometimes you’re down in the shit and it’s all your fault, but it feels good to own it, it feels empowering

…which is great cuz now I don't feel quite as bad for cribbing from other sources so let’s hear it for anti-aspirational-better-to-own-your-own-shiz-and-accept-it (and maybe other people's shiz too!) alt-rock power ballads steeped in ghostly reverb and moral ambiguity because there’s more than enough aspirational pop songs out there already as if you have any control over your life getting better but there’s never nearly enough moodyyy, broodyyy chanteuses crooning grooovy, grungyyy, gothyyy dream-pop inflected ditties embracing “the ugliness in me / disconnecting limbs / and lovers that don’t serve me” and not apologizing for it…

…and granted I was a bit puzzled at first by the refrain of “you don’t know me like I do” because, well, it seems pretty self-evident doesn’t it, but then again it’s all about how those words are put across like for instance if you just read the words “they don’t you like I love you” on the page you'd think "hmmm, interesting" but as presented in the context of “Maps” it’s an emotionally devastating statement which is something Honeyyyyycrush obviously takes to heart which isn't too surprising seeing as she’s a published poet too writing under the the pen name "Alexandra Antonopoulos" which no doubt means she gets the complexities at play more than we do…

…plus the line in question really got me thinking about how contemporary society routinely tells us (or at least strongly implies!) that no you don’t know yourself like I do just consider for instance how algorithms seek to foresee and satisfy our every impulse and inchoate desire before we’re even aware they exist (if they existed at all before! implanted memories!) or how social media in particular has made it easier for outside forces to reorient our very preconceptions of reality and identity by supercharging time-tested methods of emotional manipulation against us…

…which isn’t to say, social media or no social media, that there aren’t creeps out there waiting to try and gaslight you no matter what (especially women, natch, who too often fall victim to "mansplaining" music bloggers ummmm...) so “you don’t know me like I do” is actually more nuanced that I realized at first it just takes a voice like Alexandra's to drive home all the implications and speaking of emotional manipulation it’s not always entirely a bad thing like with the part of "Belly Empty" starting around 2:11 known as “the bridge section” for all you budding Max Martin''s out there….

…which is where all the submerged tension from the preceding two-plus minutes rises to the surface in a swirling torrent of dizzy delicious dreaming slack-jawed release of pent-up energies and desires (“I take what I want and I take what I want and I take what I want and…”) and for 20-something seconds that feels like a mini-eternity it's like the song is rubbing your nose in icing sugar (thanks to Robert Smith for the vivid imagery I’ve stolen here because that’s my running theme!) before subsiding back into the sonic ether which is frankly and blatantly manipulative in making you want to listen to “Belly Empty” over and over again to get another hit of that bridge section dopamine to which Honeyyyyyyyycrush would maybe reply “why oh why control yourself at all just go ahead and listen obsessively again and again and again and help me build up my streaming numbers” and that’s a win-win for all involved… (Jason Lee)

Published: November 14, 2022 |

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