Honeyblood | Honeyblood
by Lee Adcock
Stop. Did my heart just skip a beat? What is this frosty pink nostalgia that I never had?
Reflect. When I was a tiny child – five? Six? – my mum would play the same two Judds tapes in the car, non-stop, during the two-hour odyssey from Madison to Manchester (not yours, silly, but Manchester, a nowhere dust square in North Georgia). Those tapes made me think ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water‘ was totally theirs.
Reflect deeper. I remember the one odd occasion that I sat in the back of the school bus, with the older kids. So tall, so dour. What clouded their brows? Were they wearing flannel? It was 1996.
Where does Honeyblood fit in this scheme?
Well, I may be wide off the mark here – but I’d been trying to work out where that refreshing frankness in their sound came from. ‘Cos something uncommon is there. Not the same garage/grunge trawlers, and certainly not just ‘cos of the gender. One thing’s certain – Honeyblood don’t wanna be indie. This debut is big, but not bloated. Sweet, but not saccharine. Loud, but not abrasive – no, rather, your ears will thank you later for treating them to such a feast of twined harmony, such a surfeit of guitar, such a massaging stomp of drums.
The members themselves cite the Throwing Muses among their influences, but that’s less in the sound and more in their gung-ho confidence. They also cite PJ Harvey, and that’s apt to an extent – but I told you, Honeyblood defy the “indie” brand. Listen, for instance, to ‘Joey‘, and hear the gorgeous, sunny chorus, with an outro that throws ya back, way back. It bleeds perfectly into ‘Fortune Cookie‘, a jangle and jingle soda pop harmony that’s as big as Motown and as summery swell as the Beach Boys or the Association.
There are so many massive riffs on here, so many hooks to embed in yr mind. ‘Fall Forever‘ charges straight out of the gate. ‘Choker‘ may appear straightforward at first, but it’s the album’s broken drainpipe, oozing blood into the creek.
But ‘Biro’. Oh my stars, Biro. This riff should blast from a million car stereos, or stamped on a hundred summer mixtapes, and/or climbing charts on both sides of the ocean. It’s cleaner than ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘, more sparkly than ‘Cannonball‘, but burns just as deep a mark.
‘Bud‘ is swoon-worthy for other reasons – and here’s where the Judds connection comes in. Mind, this tune is way more dynamic than any country record – but do you hear it? The way Honeyblood pour expression into their lyrics and still blend so serenely together? With that extra ounce of devotion? I mean, I haven’t heard a Judds tape in decades, and somehow I fear that if I look them up again, the spell they have in my memory will snap and fade – but with them, and with Honeyblood, there’s this very generous, honest bleeding of passion. They give you what strength and love they sing on about. Others may claim to do so, but only to boast their own ego and garner more fans (or, today, likes on Facebook). However, when Honeyblood say they’ll “nip it in the bud”, they extend the same words of wisdom to you. Don’t dwell. Get over it. Live now.
Elsewhere, when they cry “WHY WON’T YOU GROW UP?” in ‘All Dragged Up‘ that bitterness sounds real, too. Oh, yes, Honeyblood hash out lots of frustration here throughout the LP, even under dreamy swaths of guitar like on ‘(I’d Rather Be) Anywhere But Here‘. It’s that range of emotions, that pallet of experiences, which color this album with an added depth – maturity, even – in addition to the stab-to-the-heart melodies.
Have I made myself clear? Honeyblood should be on top of the world right now. I’m trying very hard to come up with some flaw, something to balance all this praise, but I lack the words. This one’s a knockout, kids. Get excited about it.
Honeyblood is released on July 14th, via FatCat Records. Buy it here.
They play The Old Hairdressers in Glasgow on July 14th and
London’s Old Blue Last on July 16th. Full dates/info here.