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Brighton-based quartet Black Honey have finally released their self-titled debut album, 3 years after their breakout single ‘Spinning Wheel’. After multiple headline tours, festival performances, and even an arena tour supporting Royal Blood, it’s safe to say that this record has been highly anticipated, but does it live up to the hype?
The opening track ‘I Only Hurt The Ones I Love’ eases us into the album with droning atmospheric synths, which then launch into the band’s signature Americana-inspired guitar riffs. The lyrics “Make a sound, break the silence in me” and “Cross your heart and hope to die, I’ll break it just like you broke mine” are hard-hitting and introduce us to a character who is heartbroken and frustrated. In fact, they’re so hurt that they’re no longer able to distinguish between “what is right and what is real”.
‘Midnight’, one of the newest singles to be lifted from this album, is a radical departure from what we hear in the album opener. Characterised by robotic vocals, this track is instantly more electronic and sounds more like the Scissor Sisters than their Brightonian pals Royal Blood. Despite its lack of guitar, ‘Midnight’ somehow retains a rock spirit due to its abrasive electronic tones.
‘Whatever Happened To You’ is grungy, bass-heavy and post-apocalyptic, showing yet another side to the band. With a plethora of guitar bands all competing to breakthrough in an already saturated industry, Black Honey stand a good chance of conquering the mainstream due to their willingness to experiment demonstrated on this album.
‘Bad Friends’ continues the post-apocalyptic theme, as front-woman Izzy B Phillips sings “Making plans for a new world” and rambles about thunder, fevers and driving fast, which creates a vibe of danger and destruction to match the doom of the song title.
The album begins to slightly disappoint on ‘Blue Romance’, which feels as though it’s intruding into Lana Del Rey’s aesthetic territory with references to James Dean, Elvis and palm trees. Although Lana clearly doesn’t own the rights to these pop culture references and the band are fully entitled to reference whatever they like, it just lacks originality, especially when you also factor in the use of harps and violins in the instrumental.
‘Crowded City’ stands out as one of the best of the previously unreleased album tracks. The guitar on this track mirrors and respond to Izzy’s vocals and the filters on her voice sound cool and dystopian, rather than cringe-worthy. This Americana guitar style runs through the entire album and makes it cohesive, despite all of their sonic experiments. The line “Have you ever been alone in a crowded city?” is very relatable, addressing the anxiety that many of us feel on a daily basis when navigating our way through the hustle-and-bustle.
‘Hello Today’ is one of the best singles that the band have released to date, so I was thrilled to see it on the album tracklist. The line “C’est la vie” is a nice nod to one of Izzy’s biggest influences, Brigitte Bardot, and the track encapsulates those days when you attempt to face the world with confidence, whilst underneath, everything is frustrating you.
‘Baby’ was an opportunity for Izzy to showcase her brilliant, unique vocals but unfortunately, it feels as though the band got somewhat carried away with the production on this one.
‘Into The Nightmare’ does a good job of picking the energy up towards the end of the album, sounding like a Halloween remix of Goldfrapp’s ‘Strict Machine’ and closing tracks ‘Just Calling’ and ‘Wasting Time’ bring us some closure, as the character gains some confidence and perspective, providing us with sassier lyrics and a hint of optimism: completing the lyrical journey of a character fluctuating between feeling unapologetic and full of regret.
All in all, a solid debut from a very promising band!
★ ★ ★ ★
‘Black Honey’ by Black Honey is released September 21st, and the band are on tour throughout the autumn: tickets available here!