Honeyblood – Honeyblood
Honeyblood – Honeyblood (14th July via Fatcat Records)
For the unbeknownst, Scotland’s music scene is a brittle, idol-seeking desert. That is to say, to many, Scottish music rarely breaks through its predisposition of seeking to sound like anything but itself, resulting in a rather barren culture. We rarely sing in our own accent, almost every unsigned guitar band suffers from Post-Britpop Depression and the rest take influence only from scenes international. But for those who indulge themselves in the Scottish scene a bit further than the Facebook pages of their friends’ bands and listening to Chvrches and Biffy on the radio, it is a slightly different, and more vibrant story.
Honeyblood are Scotland’s ode to these fans. Look in the right places, watch the right bands at places such as T-Break (or even SXSW for a taste of home-away-from-home), and you’ll find that Scotland’s culture has always been the dominant priority within its music industry. The only thing is, you can’t pin it down and label it. Honeyblood are half a band with the sound of a packed stage. Their assorted sounds of grunge, country, punk and pop are all stitched together into a summery dress with the phrase “Fuck You” woven into it.
It is easy to see why they have been gifted support slots with bands such as Sleigh Bells, as their self-titled genre “Crunch-Pop” resonates with the “Noise-Pop” sound of the above: the crashing distortion in both bands are succeeded by the divine vocals that swim through the senses and soothe the inner-ear from the explosive instrumentation it has just survived.
On paper, conflict arises between their contrasting mesh of genres, but it is clear from their self-titled debut straight from the beginning with “Fall Forever” how Honeyblood’s manic guitar melodies reach the heights of raucous rebellion found throughout punk, and then suddenly drop off and let Stina’s vocals clear the air after the storm of distortion to smoothly transition into an attractive and memorable popular hook. Interestingly, the first lyric of the track (also “Fall forever”) paints an acute portrayal of the spiralling guitar melodies you first experience, and also that is found throughout the entire album as you endlessly fall into every track in a haze of timeless motion, and exit each with almost psychedelic essence.
If I could sum up Honeyblood’s debut with one song from the album, “Super Rat” would expose the beautiful cognitive dissonance they provide as a band throughout. The lyrical content is a disgusting revolt against a sweet-talking male, but the instrumentation and vocals offer nothing but sweet sounds and sweet-talking themselves. Stina could be spitting the most hellish vile at you but her angelic vocal chords as well as Shona’s airy backing vocals would still hypnotise you into a dreamy daze, unaffected by the pure acidity found in “I will hate you forever” from the chorus. The melodic guitar accompanied by Shona’s mellow drums in the verse may also create an image themselves of a gentle, friendly nature, but are also still entirely anomalous to the story of the song.
Although some tracks such as “Fall Forever”, “Super Rat” and “No Spare Key” are ones that will most likely become fan favourites (indeed, “No Spare Key” is a personal favourite), the album itself isn’t a stellar set. When you look at an album such as The 1975’s self-titled album, all of the songs were of a similar stature and regardless whether you liked them or not, the majority could have been a single as they all stood on their own two feet as well as being able to neatly slot back into the album as anything but a filler.
There aren’t many (if any) on the album I would consider a filler; instead, I view the album as having moments of wonder, not songs. The first one being the previously talked about opening riff to the album in “Fall Forever”, but there are a few others that offer a reason to replay. The pause and then the immediate celestial strum of the C major 7th chord in “I’d Rather Be Anywhere But Here” throughout the song hit me very strongly. The vibration of the strings from the chord would make ripples in the swimming pools of a mopey Lana Del Rey music video. Then there is the bassy drone full of distortion in BraidBurn Valley akin to the addition of bass in the chorus of “Exit Music (for a Film)” by Radiohead, accompanied by the lyric “Another fucking bruise, this one looks just like a rose” that espouses the coping of darkness through (perhaps devastatingly) finding solace in the pain of it.
Honeyblood are certainly a band of wonder: defying the conventional band setup and still hitting you just as hard. One can certainly make comparisons to Royal Blood, in 100% gender setups, in number of members, in instrumentation, coincidentally in name, as well as how massive their sound and songwriting can be with such a small number of contributing minds.
A tiny band with a proliferating reputation; however, their future is what is to be exalted. Whilst their debut may ignite nothing more than some Scottish pride in its own music scene (and rightly so), it is how they will improve on subsequent releases that excites me about Honeyblood and their first record.