By Jonny Golian
March 17, 2022
Art is as much the product of personal reflection as the expression of a certain subject. For Madison Lucas, lead singer and songwriter of Charlotte’s indie pop band, Modern Moxie, the art of crafting each song comes straight from the heart. The group’s debut in 2019, scratch your wayused self-reliance as their main theme, but their new EP, gutter honey, takes a more introspective look at life and tries to make sense of our place in it, especially as things change as we age. With arrow precision, each piece leaves a poetic message for its audience to ponder.
Produced and recorded by Jason Scavone at Sioux Sioux Studio and mastered by Dave Harris at Studio B Mastering, the EP kicks off with “Horizon,” a track that sets the tone with a slow build-up on Phil Pucci’s guitar. Accompanied by the voice of Lucas, he takes the listener into a vision of a new day while the lyrics take on idyllic images. Each set of verses is marked by the thunderous drumming of Charlie Weeks and Harry Kollm on bass, culminating at the end with Lucas’ question “Will I wake up from this misery?”
“Weeping Willow” picks up the pace and dives into depictions of youth and carelessness, before turning into fears of an uncertain future. Lucas yearns for easier days: “Remember? / We were playing outside, in the middle of the night? While the message hits home that moving away from innocence is inevitable, she still asks listeners to “rediscover color”, returning to where the song began with nostalgic childhood moments.
In the six-track collection’s singular change of tone, “Big Wave” brings the tempo with a psychedelic rock vibe, allowing the band to work more with guitar and drums. Lucas keeps a confident pace, breaking up what seems like a radio fuzz at the start of the track, and eventually bursts into a clearer quality. Towards the end, there’s a slowdown that turns into a personal statement from the band regarding the politics of the day: “You’ve had enough of handcuffed kids / It’s time to wake up.” The message in the repetitive core lyrics, when combined with the quick commentary, gives the band a way to tell how easy it is to hide from the real world in the next popular trend or phenomenon, “Big wave/ Big Save / Big Deal”. .”
The title track, “Gutter Honey,” features haunting backing vocals layered over the instrumentals, helping to make the finale memorable. The song’s bluesy approach reminds listeners to hold their loved ones close, but acknowledges that the only thing that can survive time is the art we create: “All my friends are gone / All I got is this are songs.” Emotions are stirred by a remarkable guitar solo from Pucci that finally ends in a rich yet dark sound with Lucas’ croons.
It’s hardly a shock that a project like gutter honey could be the greatest reflection of the time we have all spent in solitude. As we enter more social spaces again, Modern Moxie’s depiction of the anxiety we collectively felt during the early years of the pandemic is something of a time capsule.
Art, in its strongest form, is something timeless that can be exploited at any time. modern moxie gutter honey makes a definitive case for itself that, although painful at times, there are still glints of gold in the dark.