The ‘band photo’ on the back cover of Deflowered shows six similar-looking folks playing different instruments in what appears to be the ultimate faux-art group shot; it’s ultimately humorous, though, as all six band members are actually Gavin Rhodes in various poses. See, Rhodes is Honeypower – not that anyone would know from the surprisingly smooth sound of his work.
Rhodes takes the no-bullshit pop-song attitude of Bennett and meshes it with the introspective side of dreamy artists like Swervedriver and My Bloody Valentine to create a project that ultimately sounds far less like these bands that one would expect. While there are obvious hints of these acts, most of the songs are tender and benign, creating the dichotomy of an album that sounds good, but that’s ultimately boring and unsatisfying in the long run.
That’s not to say that Deflowered is a total waste; Rhodes grows some balls with the rousing guitar flare-up “God No,” which sounds like 60’s era Rolling Stones rolled up with The Jesus and Mary Chain. “I’m Free” is an acceptably subtle pop song; “Run Away” starts out slow, but picks up steam with a layer of ‘crunch’ rhythm guitar that supports the chorus.
The main problem is the long dry stretch that opens the album. The aforementioned “God No” is the first real attention grabber of the disc, and it’s track seven – which means Deflowered opens up with six tracks of drab, droning material that blends together way too easily. “The Ties That Bind” has a nice bass throb, but the rest of the track never falls into place around it. “I See the Light” is catchy, but not perky enough for the sound it’s trying to achieve; the consecutive “Down in the Valley” and “Oh Komiko” are just far too long – three minutes of each would’ve been great, but at over five minutes, this is a 10-minute vacuum of ‘disinteresting’ that’s just too much to overcome.
As Honeypower, Rhodes is in an unenviable position with this disc. The performances are breezy and dryly catchy, and the album sounds good as a whole production-wise. Sadly, though, Deflowered just doesn’t add up as the sum of its parts, as most of the songs here feel aimless and empty. Almost all of the necessary components of a good album are here – but the songwriting element just isn’t as up to par as the rest of Rhodes’ skills. Here’s hoping he can pull some better material out of his hat for the next round of Honeypower recordings.