Healthy Junkies


Way back in the summer of 2014 whilst on my 2nd visit to Blackpool’s famous “Rebellion Festival”, I chanced upon a local nightspot who were hosting a matinee show by a Siouxsie and The Banshees tribute. Supporting that afternoon were none other than London’s “Healthy Junkies”. Although I only caught the last couple of songs it was to prove to be a musical love affair that was only gonna grow! Wind forward 3 years and LP number three “Box of Chaos” is upon us, and is anything but.

The album opens with “Nice n Sleazy”, a scratchy guitar-led number with a sleazy, muffled vocal. The driving beat in the background courtesy of Tony (drums) is matched by Phil’s clangy guitars kicking in. The main chorus is anthemic and I’m reminded of dark, dirty Rock clubs – (I’ll dispense with the obvious and suggest it’s not about the festival of the same name)! The swirling guitars take it to its conclusion on this confident opener. “Never Want It Again” is altogether heavier, harder and faster in its intro and gives way somewhat to a slower section; before returning to the pace. The slow/fast formula keeps one guessing while the fast-paced noodly bridge appears briefly before the main chorus takes centre stage once more. Those noodly swirling guitars take the song on to its conclusion.

“Danny Trash” begins all dark and Gothy with a layered intro. An autobiographical tale no doubt about one “Danny Trash”. The guitars have a “radio friendly” feel, matched to the clear audible vocal; while the 2nd half of the song ups the tempo with Nina’s powerful refrain of ‘Anti-Social, Anti-Social, before departing on the chorus. “(I Hate You) Hypocrite” is the shortest song on here and a live favourite, usually an encore or show finisher. It begins with a telephone message edit, before launching 90mph into a repetitive and angry diatribe (one assumes) against an ex-lover/partner. It pulls no punches in its delivery and doesn’t disappoint, ending rather abruptly.

“I Don’t Give a Damn” employs another brief sampled edit before those scratchy guitars form the main part of the song. I’m guessing it’s another autobiographical tale; delivered with an angry, narcissistic anger as displayed in Nina’s vocal. Those guitars swirl, matched to fierce cymbal led drumming and a clever use of echo and whispered vocals in places. The latter part of the song becomes more intense as Nina’s voice takes a more haunting route to the abrupt end. “Je Suis Free” is poppier with a much “cleaner” vocal and all round sound. Brutally honest lyrically with a clear message throughout. The swirling guitars in the bridge match the hard hitting in the background before the “chanting” chorus takes the song to its end.

“Watch Out” takes the pace down somewhat reminding me of “Ju Ju” era Banshees. The twisted guitars work a treat with the subtle hitting nestled in the background. The strained noodling in the bridge makes it edgier before they up the pace during the latter part of the song. Those swirling guitars close the song perfectly before the abrupt ending.

Healthy Junkies

“Rebellion” takes the album in a slightly different course, opening with a drum section that sounds like it is being played in another room! Dual vocals then become the focal point in this poignant number about standing up for one’s self (as opposed to a rebellion itself). As the lyrics become more focused on the subject matter the vocals are delivered with more immediacy and the song just gets faster. The frenetic hitting and swirling guitars are immense right to the very end and it’s another sharp but fine ending. “Just A Fool” starts with a crunchy guitar part before an energetic, heartfelt call to arms (lyrically). “Fight capitalism, fight liberalism”, delivered in a most emphatic yet anthemic way. The song ends with the chanted refrain “it’s a riot, it’s a riot”….. before coming to yet another grinding halt.

“Runaway Devil” has a slow, dark intro with haunting storytelling lyrics. Chiming chords and samples in the background just add to the suspense before it comes alive mid song. Frenetic hitting and yet more guitar swirls accompany occasional piano and a racy vocal. It is the album’s overriding highlight and just made for the live arena. ‘Hustle Street’ uses a hard-hitting intro before Nina’s clear, crisp vocal kicks in. Noodling aplenty and more swirling guitars in places. It’s “radio friendly” sound is a clear departure from many of the songs on this collection. Those swirls, however, capture the mood of earlier songs right up to its conclusion.

“Captive” again shows off Nina’s soft, sultry vocalising-displaying the wide range of styles on this album. It briefly comes to life before retreating to its early incarnation. Echoey, gentle hitting subtly sits in the background; briefly giving way to a much softer guitar part. However, the second half of the song springs to life with a more in-yer-face vocal, swirling guitars and an underlying heavy bass. As the drums become more frenetic Nina bellows the “Breakaway Breakout” line with sheer power. The angry, angsty vocal takes it to another fine ending.

Penultimate track ‘Don’t Give Up’ has an interesting snare-driven beat, accompanied by a strong vocal and a hint of ska in the midsection. The chorus is slightly repetitive but the vocals remind me ever so slightly of The Primitives. Where the lyrics meet the title is anyone’s guess but it is not out of place on this collection. ‘D7’ ends the LP on a much slower, low tempo note. Again I’m reminded of “Ju-Ju” era Banshees but one could choose from a number of influences. Once again though the slow/fast formula takes the song in a completely different direction as it paces to its conclusion. “Dimension Seven” becomes quite repetitive within the chorus, yet I suppose that’s point. And with that, the album comes to a close.

Having discovered Healthy Junkies purely by chance in 2014 this is still the only LP I own. However, if this is your start point with the band then it’s a good place to start. For fans of “Lovely” era Primitives, Daisy Chainsaw and Siouxsie (to name 3) I wholeheartedly implore you to go and see this band live. This collection is great but when in the live arena this band come into their own. With shows constantly booked up and down the length of the British Isles I see no reason for the band to just get bigger and increase their fan base.

Track listing
Nice N Sleazy
Never Want It Again
Danny Trash
Hypocrite
I Don’t Give A Damn
Je Suis Free
Watch Out
Rebellion
Just A Fool
Runaway Devil
Hustle Street
Captive
Don’t Give Up
D7

Band members
Phil – guitar/vox
Nina – vox
David – bass
Tony – drums

Video


Links
http://www.healthyjunkies.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/healthyjunkiesband

Review by Ross A. Ferrone

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