The nineties were a golden era for women in rock music. The era spawned such contemporary living legends such as PJ Harvey, Kim Deal, Kim Gordon (after Sonic Youth’s surge into the mainstream) and controversially Courtney Love. Honeyblood could easily be labelled as somewhat of a post-riot grrrl outfit, the women I’ve mentioned seem to have definitely left a mark on this Glaswegian duo. The band consists of Stina Tweeddale on vocals and guitar and Shona McVicar on drums and vocals. The band have been garnering much attention across the music press including NME, Pitchfork and Vice.
In true punk rock fashion, Honeyblood recorded their EP “Thrift Shop” in a bathroom with a tape deck in January 2012. Although Honeyblood are heavily influenced by the bands I’ve previously mentioned, it would be unfair and incorrect to write them off as some kind of neo-riot grrrl act. Honeyblood are a contemporary interpretation of the strengths of the past and their debut is strong and accomplished enough to stand on it’s own as an achievement. Journalists claim Honeyblood are in the same category as Best Coast and Haim but what strikes me about Honeyblood is that they have a hard edge that a lot of acts of a similar vein lack. Honeyblood are a band definitely laden with pop overtones and accomplished melodies but there is a dark streak in there debut which keeps them interesting.
Honeyblood’s lyrics are vicious and spiky with themes of vengeance, anger, betrayal and love. These themes are what give them a unique edge in a sea of jangling guitars and romanticism that is rife amidst their contemporaries. Tracks “Super Rat” “Choker” and “(I’d Rather Be) Anywhere But Here” hark back to the heyday of Kat Bjelland and Courtney Love. With strong imagery and lilting guitar riffs, there is a sense of nostalgia that I can’t escape listening to Honeyblood’s debut. “Super Rat” is lyrically abrasive and the songs’ fury escalates opening from “You are the smartest rat in the sewer” to a catchy chorus of “I will hate you forever”. Lyrically the album is accessible and easy to relate to as a woman scorned and perhaps anyone scorned. Vocals are clear, concise and effortlessly cool. It’s hard to believe the band are from Glasgow and not Portland, Oregon. The band’s Americana influences are rife but this does not make their sound any way disingenuous.
Many bands of the past have managed to fill a room with their sound despite being only of three or four members (Hole and Nirvana) and Honeyblood manage to achieve that if you replace grunge growls with sixties girl group style harmonies combined with anthemic cheers, jeers and yelps. As if to almost pay homage to their predecessors of the nineties, “Biro” declares “If I threw my pen into the sea, I know there’ll be someone to write after me”. Honeyblood’s debut manages to maintain it’s lo-fi indie credentials by not being over-produced which is the downfall of many in my opinion and can somewhat hamper the aesthetic.
The album opens strongly with “Fall Forever” which manages to draw you in immediately with a storm of guitars followed by confident vocals, “I never knew your eyes were so blue.”. Standout tracks are “Fall Forever”, “Super Rat”, “Choker” and “(I’d Rather Be) Anywhere But Here”. The track “Bud” wouldn’t be out of place on an album by The Vaselines or The Raincoats. It’s simple melodic style and folksy vocals are very charming. Overall, the album is well paced. My only criticism is that it seems to slightly tire out near the end which is a shame. I feel the album would reach a near level of ten out of ten were it perhaps a track short but I could be wrong. The album ends with the beautiful “Braid Burn Valley (Blink, Now You’ve Missed It)”. The track could easily end a festival set. The track combines the loud/quiet style of grunge and lilting riffs with somewhat cool nonchalant vocals. Honeyblood’s album ends with hidden-but-not-hidden track “Blink, Now You’ve Missed It” in true Endless Nameless fashion. The track is a departure in that it is piano driven. It’s a beautiful down tempo track to end the album.
The album was produced by Peter Katis who has previously worked with The National and Interpol in Tarquin Studios in November of last year.
The album was released through FatCat Records on 15th of July 2014.