Album Reviews

Black Honey – Written & Directed

(Foxfive) UK release date: 29 January 2021

Black Honey - Written & Directed Brighton alt-rock quartet Black Honey have spoken of their love of cinema, so titling their second album Written & Directed seems like an appropriate choice. The band’s image, influenced by gritty spaghetti westerns and ostentatious 1950s iconography, conveys feisty sex appeal straight from a cult classic. Their self-titled debut album from 2018 gave us energetic numbers like Somebody Better, All My Pride and Hello Today, and these, it appears, provided a taste of things to come.

Lead single Like The Way You Die packs a punch with raw, jangly riffs and gripping vocals that emit a violent sharpness. The title comes from the iconic line in Django Unchained, where Django goes back to Big Daddy Bennett’s plantation and kills “Big John” Brittle. The rage that eclipses Django is emulated in the mood on this track, with vocalist Izzy Philips taking no nonsense. She sings, “Sorry, love is not for free/ I’ll lock you up and I’ll eat the key / The monster in the dark is me”. These lyrics reflect Philips’ deep emotions, laying down a warning not to mess with her. The video takes the monster theme further with a twist on Rocky Horror, courtesy of director Frances O’Sullivan.

Philips is very much the band’s driving force. Her musical persona is a collage of punk-rock heroines and sliver-screen starlets. She has the rebelliousness of Kathleen Hanna with the lusty charm of Poison Ivy.

Believer is a defining moment, managing to compress dirty rock ‘n roll, Americana and refreshing brass sections together, all in less than three minutes. It transports us to the wilderness of America’s bible belt with imagery of resurrection and confession. The echoing backing vocals of “born again” become a gospel chant that gives the track an infectious rhythm, even if the drum fills are a little excessive for a three-minute rock song. Run For Cover follows the same structure but is pure, unadulterated rock ‘n roll with jangly riffs that evoke The Cramps, Bikini Kill and ’60s trash rock.

Tracks like these show that on Written & Directed, Black Honey open up a world of nostalgia that combines exotic elements of cult cinema with the novelty of America’s wild west, and deliver something bespoke in the process. 

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Black Honey – Written & Directed