Stina Marie Claire Tweeddale and Shona McVicar released Honeyblood in July 2014, Stina Marie Claire Tweeddale and Cat Myers released Babes Never Die in November 2016. Despite this personnel change, Honeyblood’s two records are equally brilliant, and this a review of the latter (obviously).
Whereas the band’s debut embraced the fuzz to propel their guitar-drum duo hooks, their second album follows a more direct and polished path to pop-rock enjoyment. Tweeddale’s emotive vocal delivery remains as impassioned as ever, but the sounds to which she tells her stories have considerably more bounce. Let’s just say this is more ‘Fortune Cookie’ than ‘Super Rat’ in terms of tone.
Opening with a refrain of “Never die!” into its title track, Babes Never Die gets off to an energetic start by proclaiming its title and underlying message unashamedly. ‘Ready for the Magic’ continues the party as Tweeddale informs that she is indeed ready for the magic, as Myers provides complimentary backing vocals and harmonies on the chorus, this is a flurry of fun. Starting with a trio of singles, ‘Sea Hearts’ is equally frantic, and you’ll be sweaty only 11 minutes in.
’Love is a Disease’ is a wonderfully visceral as I recall from its Hogmanay 2015 performance in Edinburgh, as it powerfully conveys the internal conflicts of being in love. ‘Walking at Midnight’ is simple, but ridiculously catchy, with the acoustic interlude serving to maximise the energy of the track’s closing moments. Proceedings remain infectious until ‘Cruel’ changes the tone to tear-inducing as Tweeddale bares her heart in a moving confession of her questionable actions towards a partner, which strikes a similar mood to debut album closer ‘Braidburn Valley’. ‘Gangs’ however steals the show with its powerful instrumentation and uncompromising assessment of small town living and everyday injustices, as Tweeddale warns repeatedly: “Don’t let your fear keep you here.” A short instrumental closing track defuses the anger of ‘Gangs’ and brings Babes Never Die to a resolute finish.
Building on the success of their debut and touring so far, and after being revitalised by the change in drummer, Honeyblood are stronger than ever on their second record, and things can only get sweeter. The name of this record are also the words featured on a tattoo Tweeddale has, and as well as being an inspiring mantra, it should surely now also be an inspiring memento of an excellent musical accomplishment.
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