Since February 14th, there’s been one record that I can’t stop listening to: it’s Honeymoon by Beach Bunny.
Beach Bunny began in Chicago with frontperson Lili Trifilio recording songs on her own. After a few EPs, she eventually gathered together a full band in order to play in a local competition. That was 2017. Now, Beach Bunny remains a full band with members Jonathan Alvarado, Matt Henkels, and Aidan Cada. Honeymoon, their full-length debut, was released via Mom+Pop, a quick follow-up from their 2019 EP, Prom Queen.
Listening back through Beach Bunny’s discography, to the early EPs Animalism or Pool Party, it’s easy to hear the soft, DIY beginnings. But, I also found the consistency. From the beginning, Trifilio had landed on a punchy, surf-like style. It's a style that doesn’t live in California, but instead, dreams of it. (“Can we go back to California?” she sings in one track.)
From Animalism to Honeymoon, there’s sad stories. But, an earnest and sunny optimism retains and permeates each song, even in those sad stories (which seems to be a perfect combination to soundtrack TikTok videos - the song "Prom Queen" was a viral hit on the platform).
Honeymoon is bop after bop, it’s crisper and cleaner, and it’s more of Beach Bunny’s beloved bittersweet pop-punk. It is also an album that tells a story, from start to finish, following a near-perfect narrative arc (is it too early to declare this my favorite album of 2020?). Honeymoon moves from the end of a relationship, to nostalgia, to moving on, and finally, to falling in love again (which made Valentine’s the perfect release day).
Here’s a track-by-track look:
Promises: The story starts with an ending. Trifilio sings, “Part of me still wants you, part of me wants to fall asleep…Part of me still loves you, how could you love someone and leave?” It’s a post-breakup tune, full of mixed emotions and confusion.
Cuffing Season: The surf elements are clear here, with a fast and chunky guitar. “That’s not love,” speaks one line. “Sometimes I like being on my own,” is another. The song shows a realization that a relationship is not actually one of love.
April: This tune is big and catchy, with yearning in the front, and it pairs April showers with the tears from missing someone special. “It’s been another year/Wishing you here,” sings Trifilio.
Rearview: It begins soft, with a fingerpicking start. It’s more reflective, and the song looks inwards more than outwards. Lines like “Most nights I hardly feel like myself” and “Was I ever good enough for you?” show a struggle for self-love and acceptance, before escalating into a fuzzy end.
Ms. California: The narrative here is obvious and all about comparison (“Everything’s better in California”) and wanting what someone else has.
Colorblind: Bright guitar licks accent the vocals: “Feel like technicolor TV screens/ Only say you see black and white,” sings Trifilio. It feels like a tumultuous song, like a relationship with whiplash and disconnect: One partner can see the colors and the other can’t.
Racetrack: This song is the most stripped back, while describing the strenuous feeling of trying to win somebody’s first place even when it continually seems impossible. (It’s emotional, especially when Trifilio’s voice cracks as on the line “rose-colored lenses eventually crack”).
Dream Boy: This is where the album’s story shifts from romantic endings and hits the climax. It’s a hopeful song, reminiscent of classic teen movies. “Dream Boy” marks the beginning of a relationship, with Trifilio asking for a promise: “If you’re gonna love me, make sure that you do it right.”
Cloud 9: "Cloud 9" encapsulates both the falling action and the resolution. It’s upbeat, happy, and rosy. It describes, and sounds like, the sensation of floating that love gives you. “You will always be my favorite form of loving,” closes out the track, ultimately ending the album with a warm-and-fuzzy-feeling.