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Southwest Shadow


‘Melt the Honey’ is a Sweet Fever Dream

Recorded in the span of two weeks, between two countries
PACKS creates a lyrically stunning record.
Rating: A-
Photo Credit: PACKS the Band

To cook up their third studio album, indie rock band PACKS combines the familiar sounds of the grunge movement, vivid lyricism, and a drizzle of sickeningly sweet syrup to create “Melt the Honey”. Originating in the heart of Toronto, PACKS was initially a solo project formed by lead singer and songwriter Madeline Link in 2019 with Noah O’Neil, Dexter Nash, and Shane Hooper, quickly earning acclaim from other Canadian bands as a notable artist in the indie genre. During their most recent album’s creation, they traveled between Toronto and Mexico City to practice and record songs, completing the album in 11 days. Described as an attestation to Link’s evocative songwriting, “Melt the Honey” aims to peer into the extraordinary details of daily life by serving as a semi autobiographical account of love, contentment, and bliss.

“89 Days”, the album’s opener, foreshadows the sound and feel of the remaining tracks, introducing a taste of the nostalgic and earthy vibe that is prevalent throughout the rest of the album. It’s an introduction to Link’s relatable songwriting, given that this is one of the songs on the album that really hits home. Lyrics like “Remind me later when I’ve met my fate / And as I fall asleep, I know I need to change,” come off as hopeless, but the delivery of these lines accompanied with lo-fi instrumentals creates an unexpectedly comforting atmosphere within the song. The track tackles the topic of procrastination and how it holds people back, a concept that comes off as simple and mundane, but is still very pertinent in the daily lives of many people, perfectly matching the concept of this album.

The next song, “Honey”, displays similar musical elements to its predecessor: the same inviting instrumentals complimented by moody vocals, yet completely different subject matter. Link pulls from her own personal romances to create a song that’s just as sweet as its title suggests. Singing “With the wind blowin’ through your hair / Come on baby, melt the honey,” she starts to paint an evocative picture of pining and falling in love. This song had prominent grunge elements due to the distorted guitar and heavier drums, and Link’s romantic lyricism made me swoon and immerse myself in the story she was trying to tell.

The third track “HFCS” works just as well to the sister song, “Honey”, but demanded my attention as a lyrically enigmatic track. Between verses, the chorus of the song is composed solely of the phrase “High fructose corn syrup,” which is repeated again and again over strong, heavy guitar. A song that was written to be a commentary on artificiality was initially mistaken by me to be a message about the extreme dangers of processed food due to the incessant mention of the liquid sweetener. Where “Honey” focuses on the pursuit and attainment of true love, “HFCS” talks about settling for something fake for the lack of anything better. I personally think that for me to truly enjoy this song I would have to pay careful attention to the lyrics while listening to it, and it’s definitely not something that I would put on a casual playlist due to its unconventional hook.

“Her Garden” and “Take Care” revisit the romantic themes that were present in “Honey”, but PACKS composes these songs in a way that ensures the listeners don’t think of them as repetitive. I really enjoyed the distinctiveness of these songs, since the rest of the tracks on this album all have an underlying layer of angst in them, which is typical of an indie album, but these songs are noticeably much softer. Punctuated with gentler instrumentals, these songs to me read as the most vulnerable and personal on the record. Some of my favorite lines included “With me, I don’t take care / But for you. I will, I swear” and “All my calluses are cravin’ fever dreams about you.” 

The album closes with “Time Loop”, a more lighthearted song compared to the previous tracks. The backing instrumentals are mostly composed of a clean acoustic guitar, contrasting a majority of the album that was primarily accompanied by heavy drums, synth, and bass. I enjoyed the shift in sound, since it made the song feel like a breath of fresh air after the other songs, and it allowed me to really sit back and enjoy finishing off the album. “Melt the Honey” so far has been a semi autobiographical depiction of Link’s own life, but this closing song is Link taking a step forward into the future and looking ahead at what’s to come. It’s a warm song, sentimental and soft, especially when you compare it to the more rough songs on the album. Singing “It’s not hopeless yet / she said while driving away”, PACKS composes the perfect ending for their album.

Ultimately, I would say that “Melt the Honey” is phenomenal, and I understand why PACKS as a band has been gaining traction in the indie music scene. Although the instrumentals and melodies are pretty typical and nothing to write home about, I believe that the distinct songwriting more than makes up for it. I was shocked at the quality of the production considering PACKS produced the album in under two weeks, and was impressed with just how much I enjoyed listening to it. As someone who tends to value storytelling over anything else, I loved how Link was able to spotlight her lyricism on this album, creating a record that I’ll be listening to over and over again.

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