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Black Honey - Written & Directed (Album Review)

Wednesday, 24 March 2021 Written by Huw Baines

Style over substance has become such an easy catch-all complaint that the actual fight between style and substance—the engine that has powered almost every great pop song ever—often isn’t  scored properly. Was it a first round knock out? A win on points? A split decision? Black Honey’s ‘Written & Directed’ is a bloody draw.

The second album from the Brighton group is a skyscraping pop-rock collection that throws every atmospheric trick in the book at songs with just enough nous to survive the onslaught. It’s uneven, overblown, and not always as much fun as it should be, but it’s also bursting with character and confidence.

Its seesaw effect is perhaps best characterised by the forlorn, gossamer hooks of Back of the Bar sliding into Believer, where despite an obvious chorus, cooed backing vocals and a gang chant, there’s really nothing of note to cling to.

Both, though, sound like a million bucks. Here Black Honey go big almost all of the time, and it’s enough to paper over any cracks caused by pedestrian writing.

Vocalist and guitarist Izzy B. Phillips is at home in each of the record’s settings, whether sparring with its many horn flourishes or kicking off a wave of distorted, synthetic-sounding riffage on Run For Cover, splitting the difference between The Cardigans and ‘Weld’-era Neil Young.

It’s currently difficult to guess where bands will end up post-Covid, but the sensible money is on Black Honey stepping up to big rooms sooner rather than later. The songs on ‘Written & Directed’ will be tested further in those environments, and on festival main stages, but there’s a sense that they are big enough to make the jump. Whether any lingering guile and subtlety falls in the last round as a result remains to be seen.

Black Honey Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu June 24 2021 - KINGSTON Pryzm
Tue September 14 2021 - LEEDS Jumbo
Wed September 15 2021 - PRESTON Action
Thu September 16 2021 - SOUTHAMPTON Vinolo
Fri September 17 2021 - MARLBOROUGH Sound Knowledge
Thu September 23 2021 - BRIGHTON Chalk
Mon October 04 2021 - PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms
Tue October 05 2021 - BIRMINGHAM Castle and Falcon
Thu October 07 2021 - GLASGOW St Luke's
Fri October 08 2021 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy 2
Sat October 09 2021 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Think Tank?
Sun October 10 2021 - LEEDS Brudenell Community Room
Tue October 12 2021 - CARDIFF Clwb Ifor Bach
Wed October 13 2021 - LONDON Heaven

Compare & Buy Black Honey Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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