In only two years Stina Tweeddale and Shona McVicar of Scottish band Honeyblood have escaped the humble beginnings of hocking their merchandise creations and uploading low-budget videos to YouTube to releasing a full-length LP through Fatcat Records. Although the Glasgow duo describes its sound as “crunch pop,” the sound isn’t that simple and refined. Rather, Honeyblood’s self-titled debut proves the band’s versatility and potential for experimentation, despite the group’s façade of perpetual antipathy.
Stina Tweeddale recently told Noisey that condescending males on the road and from her early guitar days in school would write her off as a musician because she was a woman. In spite of its critics, male or female, Honeyblood hoped to prove its musical worth and test out new sounds with its debut album.
Although most of Honeyblood‘s lyrics are marked by the sweet thrashing of evil boyfriends and an examination of each other’s psyche and life, the music reflects a range of genres, tempos and moods. The tracks are punk in their short length and powerfully concise in their lyrics. The songs take on a grunge element when Tweeddale introduces her thick, wall-of-sound guitar. A few songs even begin to resemble pop, sporting slower tempos with stripped-down acoustics.
One aspect, however, that remains consistent and utterly brilliant throughout is the catchy hooks that set each ballad of antagonism apart and make the album unforgettable.
The hook of “Super Rat” emphatically proclaims, “I will hate you forever,” and continues to use the extended metaphor of a sewer rat to most accurately explain her great abhorrence. McVicar’s loud and precise percussion fits in perfectly with each exclamation of disgust: (bang of the drum) “scumbag sleaze,” (bang) “slimeball grease,” (bang) “you really do disgust me.”
The next few tracks grow, feeding off a diet of grungy guitar riffs, well-timed percussion and lyrical brilliance until they reach climax with fifth track, album single “Killer Bangs.” This one has a punk sound, fast tempo and cynical tone. The screamed/sung hook, “I don’t want to have to go on without you, but I have to,” is impeccably catchy and impossible not to belt back.
Unfortunately, the following few tracks regress back into the monotonously lyrical drone of antagonism only to be saved by brilliant hooks. “Joey” is full of loathing and censure, but the softly spoken hook “You don’t know what’s good for you, what’s good for you” feels familiar, relatable and unforgettable.
The last track, “Braid Burn Valley,” is a case example of the band’s sharp creativity and brings the promise of an evolving sound on future releases. It begins with stripped-down acoustics and a powerful but measured Scottish drawl. The band slowly adds percussion, but the lyrics remain soft and nostalgic, in sharp contrast to previous tracks. Then, as the music shifts to a heavy wall of sound, the hook is introduced in all of its angst and edge: “Another fucking bruise and this one looks just like a rose.”
As the music begins to fade and it seems the album has come to an abrupt end, there is a pause and a slow piano melody plays. As Tweeddale sings, it feels like a personal promise to the listener that they’ll stay true to their musical mission and keep honing a new sound. For Honeyblood, the future seems exceptionally bright, even with all of the terrible boyfriends.
4 out of 5 stars