Rock duos, eh? You wait around for the best part of a decade without so much as a whisper, and then, like a pack of 10-year-olds on Halloween, they descend on you and demand attention, threatening all sorts of mischief if they don’t get their way. Or perhaps I just live in a rough area. Glasgow-based two-piece Honeyblood are composed of Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers and boy, are they gonna be big? Well, probably not, the law of averages counts against them but what do I know? Having grazed my consciousness back in 2014 with their debut Honeyblood and the blitzkrieg bash that was ‘Killer Bangs’ my interest was already piqued having heard the initial album trailers. If I’m honest, then Honeyblood left me slightly nonplussed, a little patchy on quality and twee when it needed a little more muscular intervention; by no means a weak debut but like the trick-or-treater at my door with a sheet over his head, Honeyblood could do better.
Armed with a new producer, James Dring of Jamie T and Gorillaz fame, and imbued with a new-found confidence following a number of high-profile support slots, Tweeddale and Myers have delivered one of the most engrossing and uplifting rampages of the year; presenting themselves as defiant and articulate defenders of their gender. Babes Never Die is part heroism, part catharsis but never dull for a single chord thrash. The title tracks lays down their early manifesto, it’s a pop-fused middle finger up to the world before launching headlong into the angsty garage rock of ‘Ready For The Magic Now’ which is pure manna from heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth for a pop hook. It may only be early November but trust me, the chorus will be the backdrop to dozens of Christmas adverts this year, it’s that persuasive and addictive.
Occasionally, they echo the swagger of Hole back when they knew a decent rock riff. ‘Sea Hearts’ has Tweeddale chanting “it’s just a little heartbreak,” in a manner which creates the illusion Honeyblood are emotionally impenetrable as they sip Tequila and don’t give a fuck. At this point, I genuinely believe them. However, ‘Love Is A Disease’ slows the pace a smidgen and shows the first signs of vulnerability; “I don’t need a cure/I just want to be in your arms,” lulls Tweeddale. Yet the endless joy keeps on coming, ‘Walking At Midnight’ evokes a gothic horror vibe and makes me oddly nostalgic for late ’90s Ghost Dance who you’ve either forgotten about or never knew existed. But if you think that’s creepy then don’t go anywhere near ‘Hey Stellar’ which is three minutes of personal pain and anguish laid bare to us all; “Hey, what do you know/it feels good to finally let you go,” may sound dispiriting but wrapped up in Tweedddale’s dreamy vocals it actually comes across as sweet as maple syrup.
Yet it’s perhaps ‘Cruel Kids’ which paradoxically steals the show; a stripped down ode to how life is just so damn tough when you’re young and confused. It’s brutal, it’s honest, and it offers a glimpse that Honeyblood have more than one arrow in their quiver; “maybe I’m not doing this life thing right,” ought to chime a note in the hearts of all young bedroom dwellers.
I’m not just pleasantly surprised by Babes Never Die, I’m actually in love with it. In fact, I want to take it home to meet my parents following a weekend in the Lake District. It’s classic indie rock, deep-fried in the wistful, lovelorn tones of its protagonists. It can be difficult to make your second album, Honeyblood prove it can also be irresistible.
Babes Never Die is released on 4th November on FatCat Records