The eponymous debut by Glasgow’s very own Honeyblood is a record that deserves all the attention it will undoubtedly get.
The duo, a staple of the Glasgow scene and spotted playing festivals from North to South on these isles, have struck strong and true with their self-titled debut album.
The excellent production of the album by the noted Peter Katis, brings out all the shimmers and groove in a band that makes neat work of low end in the absence of a bassist, which is perhaps most clear on ‘(I’d Rather Be) Anywhere But Here’ where Stina Tweeddale’s sleek and luscious guitar lines give and go with Shona McVicar’s consistent and inventive drumming, this formula is most effective in the duo’s more melodic and sweeter numbers, ‘Bud’ being a perfect example of what Honeyblood excel at.
Tweeddale’s forlorn, bittersweet lyrics compliment her defiant and soulful vocals; all accented by a drum beat that’s so immediate it’s hard not to double tap your feet upon hearing it.
It’s this accomplished songwriting and playing to strengths that make this record such an easy and enjoyable listen, when the band speed up, they soar and are also able to display their musicianship in changing pace and being inventive, like towards the end of the infectious single ‘Killer Bangs’ and again on the album highlight ‘All Dragged Up’.
Perhaps from all the strongest cuts on the album, the crashing opener of ‘Fall Forever’ really is the band at full throttle, comparisons of Tweeddale to Jenny Lewis here are founded (as they are on a few cuts from the record), but here Honeyblood display all the hallmarks of a band that loves its Dinosaur Jr, that’s spent its days enamoured with early My Bloody Valentine, while on the jangling and punchy ‘Super Rat’ there’s some channelling of Malkmus and co, and not just musically but also in delivery.
The lyrics at times can seem naïve, too direct and lacking in a little invention, but it’s actually something that compliments the band rather than hinders it, the smirk and tone behind the lyrics serve to endear us to the band, get us on their side against the past lovers that stand trial here on numerous occasions.
Towards the end of Honeyblood, there is evidence of the band’s formula reaching its limit on the by-the-numbers ‘Joey’ and ‘Fortune Cookie’ but ‘No Spare Key’ is a must listen.
Perhaps one of the best things about this album is the fact they left their best effort on the record for last, ‘Braidburn Valley’ is the darkly romantic torch song you’d long for but not think to ask of from a band like Honeyblood, echoing Morrissey in his solo years, Tweeddale’s accent cracks through so sweetly now the instrumentation is stripped down and slow; “this one looks just like a rose,” indeed.
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Words: Matthew Thomas