In his recent tribute to the Spice Girls’ debut album Spice in honor of its 20th anniversary, Albumism’s Brian Grosz contends that “Girl Power” is a vital, multi-dimensional phenomenon that manifests in various ways. While the Spice Girls and Bikini Kill may have been purveyors of very different musical strains and aesthetic stripes, Grosz admits, they both embodied female independence and pride.
Likewise, the Glasgow-bred band Honeyblood can rightfully be included among the group of – as Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin once put it – sisters doin’ it for themselves. Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Stina Tweeddale and drummer/vocalist Cat Myers, the lo-fi duo are possessed of an impressive penchant for producing powerful sounds without the luxury of a more expansive ensemble, in a similar vein as the previously potent pairing of Jack and Meg White.
Two years have passed since Honeyblood’s excellent eponymous debut LP emerged, and as evidenced on their follow-up effort Babes Never Die, the group’s songcraft has evolved in thrilling ways since. Indeed, with distortion-driven riffs, irresistible melodies, soaring vocals, and defiant lyrics in droves, the James Dring produced song suite ups the ante considerably and makes damn good on the promise of its precursor.
A noticeably more confident record with a more palpable sense of immediacy and purpose than their debut, Babes Never Die contains echoes of ‘90s indie/alt-rock vets (think Belly, Breeders, Sleater-Kinney, Veruca Salt) and shoegaze icons (My Bloody Valentine, Lush). However, despite these more obvious musical reference points, Tweeddale and Myers’ songs unfurl in refreshing and original ways, never sounding derivative or dated in the least.
The hard-hitting, back-to-back energy flash of the anthemic title track and propulsive lead single “Ready For The Magic” is up first, followed by the brisk irreverence of standout track “Sea Hearts,” which finds Tweeddale convincingly vowing to “Break hearts that get in our way.”
Other highlights include the shimmering breakup song “Hey, Stellar” and poignant “Gangs,” a reference to the Edinburgh suburb (Oxgangs) where Tweeddale grew up before escaping to college and more fulfilling pastures (“Don’t let your fear keep you here / They’ll turn into quicksand.”). The duo also succeed when they ease up on the throttle with more subdued fare like “Walking at Midnight” and “Cruel.”
“People think little girls are precious, like they need to be looked after,” Tweeddale recently explained to The Guardian. “We wanted to turn that on its head. Girls fending for themselves, with superhuman strength.” And in the case of Babes Never Die, superhuman songs in abundance.
Notable Tracks: “Babes Never Die” | “Gangs” | “Hey, Stellar” | “Ready For The Magic” | “Sea Hearts”
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