Album review: Honeyblood - Babes Never Die

Honeyblood, Babes Never Die

Honeyblood, Babes Never Die - Credit: Archant

Honeyblood improve on their recipe of sharp-tongued, sure-footed and spiky rock

Intense, roiling and fuzzed-up guitar rock with a pop heart is too often the preserve of humans with Y chromosomes. So new slabs of rough-edged music from the XX contingent is always met with trepidatious excitement.

That’s dialled up seven-fold with rock hopefuls Honeyblood, whose self-titled 2014 debut floored critics and fans alike with its dissonant garage rock and pithy lyricism, matched with compulsive melodies and heart-on-sleeve songwriting.

The defiant title of this follow-up suggests the Glaswegian duo are still on message, but here their lean, abrasive vitality has morphed into a richer, broader sound.

Firstly, the formidable line-up of singer/guitarist Stina Tweeddale and drummer Shona McVicar is no more - McVicar left shortly after their self-titled debut rocked the world, and is replaced by Cat Myers.

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The new vocal interplay reveals almost familial complementary tones, bolstering choruses and even (perhaps unintentionally) recalling the folk tradition when they circle one another in more ethereal moments.

Fear not - there’s still plenty of brusque heft carrying the melodies, all recorded by candlelight in west London’s Fish Factory studio with producer James Dring (Jamie T, Gorillaz).

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Sea Hearts is an addictive rock’n’rollercoaster, its bubbly, bolshy chorus buoying the fearless mantra “we’re the breakers on the waves, and we’ll break hearts that get in the way”, while lead single Ready For The Magic is a turbo-charged, exuberantly fearless rock club classic retooling ‘60s girl group tropes.

Earworm melodies are met with compelling metaphors (using the night time as a disguise in Walking At Midnight), vivid lyricism (“what I wouldn’t do to slip a truth serum to you” from the doomy and poppy Justine, Misery Queen), and classic pop motifs (the call-and-response howls of Sister Wolf).

Stronger, sleeker and even more striking, Babes Never Die is a riot.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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