The relevancy of guitar music will always be a hot topic, especially considering the popularity of artificial production methods (not to mention our reliance on technology as a whole). Are guitar bands dated? What's the point when it's all been done before? My personal response is response is: Who the hell cares? All that matters is that the music is well-made with thought and soul, regardless of genre or format. Honeyblood are one in what has proven to be a surge of rock duos to surface in the last few years (Royal Blood, Deap Vally and Drenge being a few examples), all of which embracing sounds from many other, more established bands yet still managing to find their own style to an extent. Hailing from Glasgow, a city which produced Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura amongst many others; Honeyblood seem to have hearty indie rock prowess running through their veins as killer melodies come ever so naturally to them. This, their debut album has certainly done their city and it's rich musical heritage proud.
Honeyblood's greatest strength is it's consistency, all of its 12 twelve tracks contain a memorable hook or refrain which makes each track stand out in its own right. Although every track is equally satisfying and enjoyable, it also means a handful of tracks could be removed from the track list and it wouldn't make that much of a difference. That being said the highs on here are truly glorious; standout track 'Choker' is full to the brim with crunchy hooks whilst 'Killer Bangs', the album's most erratic moment, grabs the listener with an irresistible ramshackle melody. 'Super Rat' meanwhile provides the album's key sing-along moment as Stina Tweeddale chants "Scum bag sleaze! Slime ball grease! You really do disgust me!", an insult if ever I heard one. All lyrical themes revolve around relationships, romantic or otherwise, from the highs to the lows, no base is left uncovered here, thus complying with the compelling nature of the melodies perfectly.
Sometimes with duos, there is an issue with diversifying their sound due to their set up size, Honeyblood manage to overcome this through channeling country/folk sounds on tracks like 'Bud' and '(I'd Rather Be) Anywhere But Here'. For me, the most impressive moment on Honeyblood is the immense closing track 'Braid Burn Valley' in which we see Stina at her most venomous as she spits 'Another fucking bruise, and this one looks just a rose' against a blazing guitar riff and an intense drumline, courtesy of Shona McVicar. The way in which the instrumentation builds to this epic moment, not to mention the unexpected addition of a piano ballad in the form of a hidden track prove that Honeyblood have far more tricks up their sleeves.
As far as debut albums go, Honeyblood has it all; anthemic moments like 'Super Rat' and 'Fortune Cookie', melodic slow burners like 'Bud' and '(I'd Rather Be) Anywhere But Here' and of course, the band's specialty, raw and punchy pop gems like 'All Dragged Up' and 'Killer Bangs'. Yes, one could say that it would've been slightly better had the track list been a little shorter to allow the very best songs to shine brighter. But from where I'm standing this is a record created with passion and skill, making it an absolute joy to listen to and proving that you don't need a multitude of synths and software to make an excellent record in 2014.
Best Tracks: Fall Forever, Super Rat, Choker, Killer Bangs, Braid Burn Valley
Discover Honeyblood's music with this handy little playlist I put together below: