In Plain Sight
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Honeyblood used to be one of those bands that people loved to label just for the sake of novelty or a genre’s revival. They’ve been compared to a hundred other female group acts (sexism, maybe?) and even to the White Stripes (because of their guitarist/drummer makeup). But basically, they were just a rock band that played pop songs in a very good fashion.
Now, since drummer Cat Myers left the group, guitarist and songwriter Stina Tweeddale has been left with Honeyblood as her solo project. Thanks to her ever-evolving discography with the band, we could say that the Glasgow-based musician is the only act in the whole UK rock scene that has shown musical progress every time she drops something new.
After the creative triumphs and major recognition that Babes Never Die brought three years ago, Tweeddale, now on her own, comes back with a clearer voice. It seems that she’s already mastered some elements from the styles she’s been swimming through in the past LPs. And Honeyblood’s already defiant approach to melodic compositions has surely taken a few steps forward for the third LP In Plain Sight.
As the album starts, the sound is instantly rich, you can hear past influences and a renewed attitude in the drum’s raw bashing, the shoegazing-like rhythm guitar, the crescent bridge, and the explosive chorus. Track number one, “She’s a Nightmare,” is about power, about a woman so beautiful it’s frightening, menacing (to men) even. It’s the kicker everybody tells you to start your album with.
“The Third Degree” sounds as if the Ronettes had a baby with Fanny (the obscure yet totally cool ‘70s band) — it’s pure rock & roll sweetness. Honeyblood’s new sound is less foggy than it was in previous albums and the result is the riffs shine brighter and the drumming is more joyous.
The heavily-distorted “Kiss from the Devil” is a playful chant built over noisey guitars. Its aesthetic differs from the previous two tracks, but the energy is sustained all the same. “Gibberish” follows and everything in this song is vigorous, from the beatbreaking sample to the recalcitrant lyrics.
Track 5 “Tarantella” is a bit too slow at the beginning and kind of confused throughout, maybe that’s the original intention. Anyways, its unfocused and heterogeneous nature leaves us hanging. “Take the Wheel” does exactly what the title suggests. Although the album has turned fuzzy by this point (lo-fi attempts, perhaps?), this track carries the torch with its catchy chorus and carefree vocals.
With “Touch,” Tweeddale finally arrives where she wanted to get to by track 5. Distortion has reached clarity. The sound is not as disjointed as the previous two songs, and drums, guitar, and synths match smoothly for the first time.
In “Glimmer,” the solo singer-songwriter proves how she can bounce from one style to another, with double-tracked vocals harmonizing along hard-rocking guitar riffs and britpop-y tambourines. “You’re a Trick” perfectly exemplifies Millennial angst with its self-disparaging arrogance and fittingly frisky synths.
“Twisting the Aces” is the only explicit attempt at trip hop and it’s a delicate yet powerful effort. Over shy xylophones, acoustic guitars, and drum machines, the vocals take the whole arrangement home and it’s all very relaxing yet cheerful.
The album’s sequencing is superb and it delivers us the final track, “Harmless.” This soft piano-driven ballad captures the angst Stina Tweeddale gave us previously, as her powerful vocals caress our ears.
Honeyblood’s refreshed sound is driven by a young woman defining her role as a definitive singer-songwriter for her generation and a true style-merging rock & roll artist. Her range accomplishes every phase British pop has gone through. Thanks to her sensibility and ambition, with an even more cohesive LP destined for her future, she’ll have the potential to influence new-coming musicians and fill arenas on her own.
Notable Tracks: "She’s a Nightmare" | “The Third Degree” | "Twisting the Aces"