Somehow, I haven’t written about this before for CUB Magazine, but I am just a tad obsessed with Black Honey.
Quite genuinely, clicking on their performance of ‘You Said It All’ from the Great Escape 2015 irrevocably changed the path of my life, veering rapidly into the realm of obscure bands (and getting my dad to drive me to see them). Many groups have burst onto the scene, only to break up after a debut album. But Black Honey has held fast, worked hard, and now are lining up to bring out a second album at an as-of-yet unknown date.
What we do know is that, based on the admittedly little available evidence, it’ll be incredible. Lead single ‘Beaches’ dropped at the end of July, and it’s taken me this long to stop dancing and actually write about it, it’s video, and the upcoming fan vid. All of which I should actually talk about now.
Black Honey has often been described as sounding like they should be on a Tarantino soundtrack and ‘Beaches’ absolutely continues that vibe, though with less murderous intent. The classic hallmarks of a spaghetti western are dominant. While there’s no harmonica, throughout the choruses the orchestra (Mark Ronsons’, none the less) swing along with infectiously swaggering pomp. Their presence is, quite rightly, only outplayed by the guitar. It’s drenched in enough spring reverb to drown in, and guitarist Chris Ostler rips through surfy riffs at an astonishing rate, playing up to stereotypes of the genre in a fashion more interesting than just copying Dick Dale’s classic ‘Misirlou’. The overall effect is absolutely a dance around the kitchen vibe.
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While not lyrically amazing, ‘Beaches’ certainly hits themes of a romanticised youthful experience pretty well, in keeping with the upbeat, energetic, and confidently grandiose vibe of the instrumentation. Singer Izzy B Phillips’ tone conveys a sense of longing for that feeling, especially impactful given the current state of affairs. The key lines in my eyes really come from the pre-chorus –
“So you never wanna let me go / You never wanna watch me leave / And tell me, baby, how it used to be”
– encapsulates how we want to cling on to the best moments of our youths, only wanting to face the highlights as remembered with friends while ignoring the less exciting reality of our daily lives.
Significant to me, though perhaps not from a pure music perspective, is that this is the debut of Black Honey’s new drummer, Alex Woodward. While one track really isn’t enough to pass any sort of judgement on him, his performance here really works. The drums are pretty laid back, with no complex rhythms or drum fills, but that works perfectly in the overall soundscape. The purpose of percussion here is to enforce the catchy clap-along feel, and nothing is compromised or overcomplicated in the fulfilment of that purpose. I look forward to seeing what Alex has done on more tracks, and perhaps more importantly what sort of impact he brings about in the live environment.
As you may have noticed, earlier I’d inserted the video. It’s there for a damn good reason. Not only will it let you listen to ‘Beaches’ it’s also a pretty cool work of art. The genre of lockdown homemade music videos has continually impressed (i.e. Baby Queen’s video for ‘Internet Religion’, discussed here), and this is no exception. The greenscreen is tragic, Elvis Presley features in astonishingly life-like form, and the outfits are On Point. With a light sprinkling of TikTok and Instagram filters, it carries a retro home-movie vibe that absolutely fits the production value instead of aiming for an uncharacteristic level of polish. Even better, there’s an Instagram filter from the band that brings a beach-themed background with super-8 style cropping, grain, and colour shifts if it’s the energy you want to bring to your feed this summer.
With a second video set to come out soon using footage sent in by fans, and more tracks from an as-of-yet unofficially announced second album just over the horizon. There’s lots to look forward to in the world of Black Honey. In the meantime, their debut album is a release that absolutely deserves a listen, maybe even using the Spotify thing below: