Black Honey – Black Honey Review
It’s been a long time coming but Brighton four piece Black Honey’s debut album finally arrives after being tipped as ‘the band most likely to ‘ for a number of years. And they’ve certainly done things the old-fashioned way, creating a huge word of mouth buzz due to their incredible live shows whilst admirably refusing to play the short game having steadfastly refused to sign away their creative vision for the shit covered carrot that is the “big record deal.”
For those expecting Black Honey to be motoring down Route 66, they may be surprised to find the band doing a handbrake turn and ram-raiding Studio 54 with all guns blazing. The album provides yet more compelling evidence that there are few artists who can match Black Honey’s ability to produce a collection of songs embracing seemingly disparate genres with such cohesion, style and confidence. But let’s not get tied up with artistically restrictive genre boxing because Black Honey’s gift has always been their ability to craft perfect pop songs, to blend a range of styles and influences – and in doing so make something uniquely their own. Frontwomen and songwriter Izzy B Phillips has created and shared her own private world of pop culture mash-ups, B-movie heroines, femme fatales and villains, a world where glamour and sleaze, heartbreak and redemption walk hand in hand in. Part Luna Lovegood, Debbie Harry and Nancy Sinatra, Izzy can display vulnerability and strength in equal measure but it’s been her singular creative vision of what Black Honey could be that has played a huge part in marking her out a genuine alt-pop icon for many of her fans.
The album also marks a subtle shift in the band’s sound kicking off with the stomping majestic western rattle of ‘I Only Hurt The Ones I Love’ before embracing the full-on disco stomp of ‘Midnight’, a song which, if the musical landscape wasn’t quite so fractured could do for Black Honey what ‘Heart Of Glass’ and ‘Atomic’ did for Blondie. Then its another change of gear for the driving rock and dirty guitar grunge of the huge ‘Whatever Happened To You’ … elsewhere ‘Blue Romance’ could be a widescreen technicolour pop version of Mazzy Star, ( and let’s face it Hope Sandoval was doing that whole lachrymose narcotic crestfallen heartbreak way before the likes of Lana Del Rey) whilst the majestic chiming guitars and soaring timeless melodies on ‘Crowded City’ demonstrate that Black Honey really could have the world at their feet. That’s how good they are as songwriters.
The only slight issue really is the omission of the sublime ‘Somebody Better’ which is a tad baffling ( although it can be heard on the double deluxe CD edition, which features all the bands previous releases and plays like a greatest hits album.) And whilst ‘Into The Nightmare’ is a fine song but it does seem to be slightly out of step with the rest of the album in terms of the overall vibe. As such it’s not that surprising to learn that it was the first song Izzy had written without Tom, Tommy And Chris instead co-writing with Mike Kerr of Royal Blood after rather too much wine apparently. But rest assured, “Black Honey” is a classic debut album filled with killer tunes which have more Hooks than New Order’s former bassist at a family reunion in a hall of mirrors on national dress like a pirate day.
File under ‘should be massive’.
Pre-order ‘Black Honey’ HERE
This Sunday they’ll be in Liverpool signing copies of their album and then playing a full gig. Tickets below