Looking at the Tarantino-esque album cover of Black Honey’s latest audiary excursion, you’d be forgiven for thinking the new album is attached to the popular director’s latest film. Indeed, this is the style and vision that the Brighton natives have often co-opted in both their sound and aesthetic. The packaging suggests the style of music you can expect to hear – raw, abrasive, attitude-driven rock’n’roll punctuated by quieter moments of introspection not unlike the dialogue-laden exposition sequences of a Tarantino movie.
For the uninitiated, Black Honey often invoke a mid-90’s Riot Grrl aesthetic with heavily distorted guitar fuzz supporting lead vocalist and guitarist Izzy Baxter Phillips’ lush crooning, which draws even further comparisons to a 1980’s Chrissy Amphlett and The Divinyls.
Horn sections play a key role in many of the songs, often adding an additional element of prestige to many of the songs, which all tend to bump and grind along at a steady pace.
It’s clear to see what the band is going for conceptually with the new album, a collection of songs designed as bombastic, dirty indie rock’n’roll. Whilst in many ways they pull this off with aplomb and gusto, certain songs come off sounding slightly overproduced which may have benefited more from a rougher mix.
There’s a few standouts from the rest of the album, in both tone and style.
One of the more surprising inclusions on the album comes in the form of the fourth track, Back of the Bar. The song exhibits an understated and smoother flow more akin to Dream Pop – which stands in somewhat stark contrast to the rest of the album’s bolder and more guitar-driven style.
Summer ‘92, with it’s wobbly guitar jangle, carries vibes of a west coast Californian beach somewhere in the 60’s.
Fire, the penultimate song of the album, feels like a triumphant close to the album – one that could easily be paired with one of Tarantino’s colourful collection of characters riding or driving off into the sunset.
In many ways, Written and Directed feels like a party album designed for a live audience, one which might be out of step with current constraints. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, at a summer festival somewhere (sometime around dusk), these songs can be heard in a format the style of the album suggests is best. Listen to the official full album below!
Words: Tim Dunbar