Honeyblood, “Babes Never Die”

Honeybloodhoneyblood-2016-babes_never_die
Babes Never Die
FATCAT
6/10

Emerging from Glasgow in 2012, the feisty guitar/drums duo Honeyblood quickly met with widespread interest and found themselves supporting the likes of Foo Fighters, Sleigh Bells, Courtney Barnett, and others. Their 2014 self-titled debut album elicited a geyser of praise for its lo-fi charm and landed on its fair share of “Best Of” lists.

From the first bar of follow-up album Babes Never Die, it’s apparent that the band have—to borrow a quote—kicked it up a notch, for though their debut was indie with a dose of rock, this album is unabashed in its devotion to the guitar. Bookended by an intro and outro—the former a loop of the phrase “never die,” the latter a light-hearted flute-filled coda to the noise that preceded it—the ten full songs on the album are, for the most part, high-octane rockers.

Honeyblood’s references are rampant, with Hole, Smashing Pumpkins, and Foo Fighters coming immediately to mind; the vocals are so spot on (are there really only two of them?) as to recall the Bangles. Susanna Hoffs and co. notwithstanding, we’re solidly in retro ’90s alterna-rock territory here. Fuzzy Nirvana-type riffage opens track three, “Ready for the Magic,” but things get slower and sexier as you go along: “Walking at Midnight” is a mid-tempo mood changer. Such stylistic shifts are actually less successful, though, and they hurt the momentum the band so deftly establishes early in the record.

Still, the ability to craft an exceptional four-minute slice of rock and roll brilliance is a cherished trait, and a skill that’s rewarded with happy smiles from those of us on the receiving end. In that area, Honeyblood have skills in abundance and their sophomore release is a hell of a ride.

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