Honeyblood (Fat Cat)
Result: 4.1 / 5.0
**Read our interview with Honeyblood about the making of their debut album here.**
A few years ago Scottish duo Stina Tweeddale and Shona McVicar made a simple decision: to form a band. After playing a handful of shows around their native Glasgow and posting a few tracks to their Soundcloud page, their riotous rock ‘n’ roll was duly recognised by the powers that be and they were snapped up by Fat Cat records and a few single releases followed. Now, their journey has led Honeyblood to the release of their debut full length album and it’s safe to say that the duo have come a long way. A very long way indeed.
The album was recorded in just ten days with Peter Katis (The National, Interpol) behind the production desk and in order to capture the twelve tracks on the album Honeyblood must have been laying down more than one per day. That’s impressive by anyone’s standards, but the break-neck speed at which the songs were recorded seems to have bled into the aesthetic of the album. Opener ‘Fall Forever’ is a perfect example of the ferocity of the tracks as a tower of crunchy, loose guitars and crashing drums punch through with enough energy to demolish the sturdiest wall of sound.
But Honeyblood are more than just raucous energy, there are genuine pop gems that shine through the dust as well. ‘Bud’ shows off the band’s ability to forge a neat, 60s infused pop song, somehow channelling the spirit of The Vandellas and The Breeders at the same time, resulting in a near-perfect pop hook rumbling with summertime energy. This 60s influence is something that permeates the tracks on Honeyblood, giving the gritty gnarl of Tweeddale’s guitar a melodic swirl, enhanced by her lilting vocals. And it turns out Tweeddale has a bit of a dark side. Tracks like ‘Choker’ and the spectacularly realised ‘Super Rat’ tell tales of relationships gone bad with, in the case of the latter, lines like ‘I will hate you forever / You really do disgust me’ being cried out with sing along vitriol. This combination of sardonic lyricism and grungy, 90s meets 60s musical aesthetics is what makes Honeyblood an exciting listen.
However, the album abandons this to some extent towards the end. The tracks ‘Joey’ and ‘Fortune Cookie’ don’t really hold the same energy as the rest of the songs on the album and embrace the 60s pop dynamic a little too much. The double hit snare rhythms and three chord guitar lines make the songs come across as a little too cute. And that’s not really what Honeyblood are about, nor where they hit their stride the strongest.
But having said that, things are firmly back on track with the rip roaring ‘All Dragged Up’, Tweeddale firmly back in the driver’s seat of her compelling disdain, rounds of ‘Why won’t you just grow up’ delivered with a punk vitality. ‘Braidburn Valley’ closes off Honeyblood with a beautifully vivid ballad of the duo’s home town that soon develops into a soaring, anthemic powerhouse.
Honeyblood have proven that they are more than capable of producing a string of noisy pop gems with attitude and energy to spare. Put simply, Honeyblood is an album full of beauty and grit; a knuckleduster covered in diamonds.
Honeyblood is out now on Fat Cat records.