Solo albums from the Stone siblings have long been interesting, if somewhat inconsistent propositions. Whilst together Angus and Julia Stone have a remarkably confident aesthetic, and compliment each other well, in their solo work they have tended to fall into notable, frustrating patterns. Julia Stone’s solo albums have all been overly consistent, failing to explore new territory, whist Angus Stone’s tend to experiment at the cost of an artistic identity. His new project honey bones, released under the moniker Dope Lemon, is very similar to his previous albums in that sense, but is worthwhile nonetheless.
Lead single Uptown Folks shows honey bones at its best. With a crunchy lead guitar that feels relaxingly melancholic, the song coasts on a pleasant groove, and it’s recorded in such a way that it feels like there’s a band playing in the room with you. Stone’s vocals are filtered and delayed, lending the song a psychedelic edge, and his lyrics show off a sardonic, poetic style that he’s never displayed before – “uptown folks, pay very well indeed”. F**k things Up isn’t the barn burner the title suggests, but is in fact a sombre rumination on regret, combining mellow guitar with a minimalist drum machine beat. Stone’s vocal style resembles Phosphorescent, as he sings “sometimes, you just f**k things up”. It’s actually quite moving in its simplicity, and shows Stone at his best.
All of the songs on the record are individually strong, but they don’t all fit together with any sort of coherence. The aforementioned two tracks are both excellent, but the alternate acoustic/electronic drumming gives the impression the tracks don’t coexist peacefully. The transitions between tracks are jarring, such as when the expansive psychedelia of the title track is suddenly switched for the anachronistic barroom blues styling of The Way You Do. Both tracks are pleasant, they just don’t sit well next to each other. As with much of Stone’s solo work, his love of experimenting has pushed him into creating strong songs, but at the cost of a memorable, consistent album.