Two years and a line-up change later from their 2014 self-titled debut of gutsy lo-fi indie-punk, Glasgow duo Honeyblood are back with their intriguingly titled, and equally punchy sophomore record, ‘Babes Never Die’. This time around, lead vocalist/guitarist Stina Tweeddale is joined at the back by Cat Myers, who’s rock and roll percussion has added a frenzied new dimension to Honeyblood’s sound
The breezy alt-pop vibe of their debut Is long gone, replaced by an angsty and ferocious collection of beefed up tracks dominated by snarling riffs, yell-able choruses and a feisty lyrical passion. Writing in the mysterious heart of Scotland has brought out a darker and stranger side to the band’s music, something that can definitely be heard on ‘Babes Never Die’
Opening track ‘Babes Never Die’ forms the self-confessed “cornerstone” of the album; it represents Tweeddale’s personal mantra – a big fuck you to the people that bring you down and an empowering statement. It could easily fit amongst Wolf Alice’s scuzzy grunge-pop, with an infectiously chantable chorus wrestling with a jagged guitar line. I think ‘Babes Never Die’ is the standout track on the album, and sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the record.
The trio of singles are certainly the strongest songs on ‘Babes Never Die’, with explosive pop-rock anthem ‘Ready For The Magic’ being a personal favourite. Tweeddale’s spits her lyrics like venom over dirty riffs in this 3-minute punk blast. The momentum doesn’t falter rolling into the energetically fuzzy ‘Sea Hearts’ which incorporates elements of 90’s Elastica style punk and grunge, with riot-grrrl esque yells of “Hey hey it’s just a little heartbreak”. ‘Sea Hearts’ is Honeyblood’s call to arms against bad relationships – “we are the breakers on the waves/ and we’ll break hearts, break hearts, break hearts, that get in our way”, I can see its bouncy hooks turning into a live favourite.
‘Love Is A Disease’ is an atmospheric fuzz-pop track that sees Honeyblood venture into new territory, expanding out of a droning synth reminiscent of ‘Kid A’ era Radiohead. Yet again, Stina’s addicting hooks are prominent…let’s say the chorus is easy to pick up. The bewitching ‘Walking At Midnight’ is a dreamy yet dark number that captivates you with its sinister lyrics, and the acoustic interlude at the heart of this track is a refreshing addition that gives the song a demo feel.
Interestingly for Honeyblood’s second record, Stina has taken an outwards approach to songwriting, trying out character studies rather than looking inwards. In a recent interview with DIY Magazine, Tweeddale said “…for this second album, I wanted to try and write about characters, and distance myself from being so personal.”, “The spookiness of that place (an abandoned water mill where the duo set about crafting ‘Babes Never Die’) fed into the songs”. The resulting songs, ‘Justine, Misery Queen’, ‘Hey, Stellar’ and ‘Sister Wolf’ are some of the album’s highlights, painting vivid images of spoilsport mates and backstabbing “bitches”.
‘Babes Never Die’ slams on the brakes as it stumbles into the brutally honest “Cruel”, Myer’s thumping drum beat thuds under Tweeddale’s beautifully haunting words. This track brings out a seldom seen side to Honeyblood that drips with raw emotion. The record climaxes in a wave of lo-fi distortion and melancholy reflection on ‘Gangs’, which challenges social and class boundaries, and captures Stina’s own experiences growing up on the wrong side of Glasgow. It’s a track that blends the best of new and old; the growling post-punk aura is still there, more chaotic than ever, but it’s equally balanced by sulking atmospheric vibes and a bouncy lyrical style. There’s a playful tone that wasn’t there before, perfectly reflected in the squeaky woodwind lull of ‘Outro’, a calming close to a furiously superb album.
It’s always surprising to see how two-piece bands can still punch above their weight, and achieve a rich and well-rounded sound, however Honeyblood have nailed this just as well as their contemporaries like Drenge, Nai Harvest or Royal Blood. ‘Babes Never Die’ certainly packs a punch, brimming with the untamed energy, savage garage-punk riffs and banging indie-pop choruses of their debut, whilst also delivering uniquely quirky storytelling and a fresh new flow (courtesy of Cat). If their debut was a little shaky to you, then ‘Babes Never Die’ is a damn good follow up, perfect for blasting away those winter blues. Honeyblood set out on tour this month with support from all female Manc four-piece Pins, get yourself down there to experience the madness live!