Honeyblood ‘Honeyblood’ – Review

29 Dec

Run the Jewels notoriously gained attention for raging on ‘fuckboys’ on their amazing second LP, but the Bronx/Atlanta duo got nothing on the Glaswegian twosome Honeyblood. ‘I Will Hate You Forever’ is one of many hard-hitting hooks aimed at a not-too-fondly-remembered ex, ‘why don’t you just grow up?!’ is another. The lines are delivered with more bile and poison than anything else I’ve heard all year, but there is an equal amount of sweetness emanating from the gorgeous melodies and seductive accents. And so Honeyblood’s name is a good description of the noise they make. Something sugary, dark and vital all at the same time. Their hooks are sharp and their bite is sharper.

Stina Tweeddale and Shona Mcvicer exude confidence – confidence that translates into a snarl and sneer on ‘Super Rat’, but there are songs, less satisfying songs, where Tweddale positions herself as a victim. On ‘Choker’ She sounds sadly helpless and lost, and on ‘Bud’ she’s actually apologetic for her broken heart; ‘it’s not your fault the white flag is hanging from the wall’. Are these personas contradictory? Actually, no, because they are merely layers of the same personality. Layers of a complex woman who fronts as well as she pleads and reflects with as much sincerity as she screams. Sweet and vital with something darker underneath.

A lot of people are comparing Honeyblood to West Coast American bands like Best Coast, but to me they seem to be in the lineage of slightly grungy but sentimental and melodic Scottish indie rock. From Jesus and Mary Chain through Garbage and Camera Obscura, I can hear local history coursing through the veins of this record. Key Glaswegian traits also shine through the lyrics; toughness, humour and a no-nonsense attitude. Tweeddale has a distinctive lyrical voice and a way with words that is often direct and amusing. ‘Time is against us, circumstance likes to dick around’ is the opening line of the glorious ‘Killer Bangs’ and on ‘No Spare Key’ she wonders ‘do you ever feel like your brain might be conspiring against you? It keeps you awake at night, till it’s just you and your dirty mind.’ Best Coast would kill for some of these lines.

For a debut ‘Honeyblood’ is astonishingly well-developed and intelligently produced. The thinness of the group’s live sound has been skillfully beefed up with the help of National producer Peter Katis. Despite containing only guitar and drums the songs sound rich and textured, with layers of breathy harmonies adding colour to the mix. The static and grubbiness of the band’s early recordings is also a thing of the past, with Katis bringing out the pop instincts in Tweeddale’s songwriting. ‘Honeyblood’ still sounds endearingly alternative and messy in a year where those types of records have been few and far between, but equally you wouldn’t be surprised to hear ‘Bud’ or ‘Falls forever’ on radio.

8/10

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