The first thing to be said of this album is that it certainly does not sound like a product of its environment. As I listened to this album in my dingy flat, just outside of Glasgow, I felt transported to a much sunnier location. This album could (and should) be the soundtrack to any beach bonfire, hosted by the achingly cool youth of today. It summons images of California grunge and beautiful indie kids relaxing in the most rebellious of ways. But, as we know, this album is, in fact, made by two women who live not more than an hour from the dingy flat I sit in, and this makes it even more enchanting.
Opener Fall Forever introduces the album with a flurry of guitars. It is a heavy start and it sets the tone for the rest of the album. The combination of rocky guitars and drums, contrasted with the sweet vocals of Stina Tweeddale is what makes this album so lovable. With this song, the listener is instantly drawn into the world of Honeyblood.
Next up is Super Rat, which is definitely a strong competitor for best track on this album. Again, the vocals start off sounding so innocent and pure, whilst the lyrics discuss the seemingly strange subject matter of rodents in underground passages. But then comes the amazing snarl of, “You are the smartest RAT in the sewer,” moving immediately into the much grittier part of the song. With lyrics like, “I will hate you forever,” and the chanting of, “Scumbag, Sleeze, Slime ball, Grease,” this really does start to sound like the break up song that Taylor Swift and Adele were just too afraid to write.
The hostility felt in Super Rat is starkly contrasted in the song that follows. Anywhere But Here provides us with one of the more gentle moments on the album. A coming of age story about wishing to flee your hometown and spend time with your sweetheart, set to the backdrop of grungy-pop tones, which invite in the previously mentioned sunshine.
Although there is no massive suggestion here of trying to cram in a variety of music genres, there is definitely a mixture of influences on display, as is so often the case with the best of music these days. Bud hints towards a more folk-ish style that sits perfectly within this record. My mind’s eye can picture it being played on a bright day at Glastonbury, whilst bohemians make daisy chains, hold peace signs in the air and sing along lovingly.
The next four tracks represent some good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. Killer Bangs is a fun, up-tempo song that could easily be found on the album of the indie bands making names for themselves in the UK just now. It sounds current and fresh and would make a great single for the band. Biro, Choker and No Spare Key are a little bit slower but manage to combine a bit of a nostalgic vibe with a contemporary sound that aligns it perfectly with the alternative scene in the UK at the moment.
This string of tracks is followed by Joey, which starts off as a very sweet tune. The instrumentation is happy-go-lucky and the vocals are amongst the best on the album. The harmonies featured are so clean and pure sounding, really highlighting that Stina is a very talented singer. Towards the end the vibe changes, though. Guitars and drums get heavier and the last 20 seconds provide yet another great rock ‘n’ roll moment. Fortune Cookie also appears to wear its influences on its sleeve, sounding like a beautiful little slice of Americana pop rock. This song wouldn’t sound out of place on the radio in a '50’s style diner and that makes it all the more fun.
Similarly to Super Rat, All Dragged Up comes across as a bitter hate piece, possibly aimed towards relationships of the past, or is it perhaps towards themselves? “Why won’t you go grow up?,” the girls ask, whilst delivering the message in a fierce pop-punk angst fashion. It certainly works for this song, but it is also a genre synonymous with rebellious teenagers, suggesting that they are maybe the ones who are struggling with the idea put forward in the lyrics. And why wouldn’t they be? I think most of us have, at one point or another.
The last (listed) song on the album is Braid Burn, and I believe it is fair to say that the album’s closer is its most epic moment. It starts off softly, guitar and vocals alone. Even when the drums do come in, it is still gentle, as Stina sings about the environment around her. A charming song indeed, seemingly about the place where they grew up. This may be coincidence (or even over analysis) but it also seemed to be the first point where you could detect the Scottish accent in the vocals. Even more so when the second part of the song kicks in. It becomes much heavier and the vocals become aggressive and passion filled. “In this valley I will do my haunting when I become a ghost,” again, insinuates that this is a love song for their hometown, and what a perfect way to end the album…
Although it isn’t really the end. If the listener does not switch off too hastily, they will be rewarded with a hidden track, which sounds quite different from the other tracks on the album. For starters, it is the only song to replace the guitars and drums with a piano. Stina sings about making a wish on a shooting star. The beauty of this song is in the simplicity. It is over almost too quickly but it adds another level of depth to the talent of this band and is certainly worth holding on for at the end.
For me, this album brings together just the right amount of genres and themes. The ladies successfully show us what they are about and what they can do, without sounding as if they are trying too hard or using every trick they have at their disposal. At times, it is hard to imagine that such an amazing noise is being made by two females alone and this makes the album even more exciting. The potential on display here is phenomenal and the anticipation for album number two has been put in place already.
- Gillian Parfery
Honeyblood - Honeyblood is out now via Fatcat Records and is available in all good record stores or via all good online retailers. You can purchase the album here.