album review: honeyblood – babes never die;

This review originally appeared on The Arts Desk.

To anybody who was able to resist the girl gang siren call that was Honeyblood’s 2014 debut album, the Glasgow duo is upping their offer. Babes Never Die is both a motto and a call to arms, the words – apparently – tattooed on the ribcage of singer/guitarist Stina Tweeddale and echoing, mantra-like, through the hypnotic chug of the album’s 45-second “Intro” track.

Sure, tacking a mostly instrumental fade onto either end of an album is the calling card of the self-important prog rocker – but, as with most things Honeyblood, it’s done with a knowing smirk and a tongue firmly in cheek (never more so than on the “Outro” track, which warps Tweeddale’s preceding social exclusion-themed lament “Gangs” into what sounds like an ice cream van theme performed on a recorder). That facetiousness, that sense of fun, underpins most of the reconstituted duo’s second album – the ferocious Cat Myers is now beating the battle drums – but you’d be brave indeed if you dared to break these hearts.

“Ready for the Magic”, first heard tearing a hole in festival stages this summer, has bona-fide hit single written all over it: crunching bass line, handclap cymbals and a chorus that begs to be screamed from an open-topped bus. “Sea Hearts” is the heady, all-consuming soundtrack to every coming of age movie and “Sister Wolf” the first-act climax when the darkness runs riot. But the deceptively gorgeous “Cruel” and the aforementioned “Gangs” find Tweeddale in contemplative mood, and show just how versatile the guitar-and-drums combo can be.

Honeyblood play Saint Luke’s, Glasgow on Thursday 8th December at the end of a UK-wide tour. Tickets available from See Tickets.

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