Black Honey: Written & Directed review – hook-filled pop-rock that stings | Pop and rock


“I feel like there aren’t any bands any more” moaned Maroon 5’s Adam Levine recently. He was highlighting the fact that record companies take less risks developing groups now, because solo artists are more economical. Black Honey are an obvious exception. The Brighton quartet grazed the Top 40 with their eponymous debut and have been given another shot. If their first album pitched them as an electro-pop Blondie making their own David Lynch soundtrack, this album remodels them as a sort of industrial pop cyberpunk, descendants of Garbage or the rougher end of the Cardigans’ Gran Turismo.

Black Honey: Written & Directed album cover
Black Honey: Written & Directed album cover

They’ve certainly thrown everything at it. Swaggering hooks, big horns and processed sounds abound. On the punky Run for Cover, big-lunged Izzy Phillips could be fronting a hi-tech Sigue Sigue Sputnik. However, the beautifully crafted Back of the Bar shows that she can turn her lungs to bittersweet Lana Del Rey cinematic pop, which she delivers perfectly short of outright melancholy.

If at times it can all sound a bit forced – Disinfect in particular is all bluster and no purpose – they get it right more than they do wrong. Beaches sounds like an improbable mix of Blur’s Girls and Boys and Shirley Ellis’s 1965 chant/hit, The Clapping Song. The instantly anthemic Summer ’92 is just crying out to be played loudly on a long summer drive with the windows open. Black Honey have lost as well as gained, but this is a confident comeback.

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