THE VOICE OF EAR-SPLITTING East London minors S.C.U.M (and the other half of Peaches Geldof), Thomas Cohen brushes off all trace of teenage synth ’n’ strobe-light depravity with this consummate display of deep-toned maturity and measured compositional skill. In leaving his figurative home with the band to start life as a solo artist, Cohen has struck out boldly and set the bar high: throwing down references to solo George Harrison, Todd Rundgren and Scott Walker ahead of his own songs.
So far, so much starry-eyed ambition from a young Londoner getting high on the lush, late night sounds of LA, Nashville or San Francisco in the late ’60s and ’70s.
“Cohen’s mournful baritone is a dead ringer for Morrissey at his most doleful.”
Happily then, Honeymoon brings a firm indicator of his solo potential, suggesting that Cohen is much more than just an avid music fan with enough budget for horns.
Honeymoon sounds immediately up-scale, Cohen’s mournful baritone a dead ringer for Morrissey at his most doleful; with a whiff of Richard Hawley’s smoke-stained weariness. His rich voice washed by muted lap steel and drums, Cohen sets about dismantling any romantic notions that this honeymoon will end in a lifetime of bliss.
Cohen’s voice is to the fore but unobtrusive, the words are hard to decipher, but the ominous portent for the song’s ill-starred subjects is unmistakable. They start and finish the song “holding on to each other” and you suspect he’s not talking about the first dance at their wedding.
“Keep your eyes where they hide the sun / Nothing to doubt anymore,” he reassures, but with a murky river metaphor flowing through the song in which “daytime comes when you both know that the water is still / It keeps you so” a happy-ever-after seems increasingly unlikely.
About two and half minutes into this doomed epic the horns arrive for minute-long instrumental break that cares nothing for Google-era attention spans.
Then the sense of discomfort knocks up a gear with turbulent guitar at around the four-minute mark and bursts of skronk suggesting that the water just got a whole lot choppier, before the vocal refrain signals our couple are eternally together, Swan Lake style.
Listen to Honeymoon here: