Black Honey - 'Black Honey' Review
Somewhere in the mind of a teenage Quentin Tarantino, stories of bloodied women in yellow jumpsuits and scalped fictional Nazis slept. And now, in 2018, a record so clearly inspired by his erotic bloodlust is born. Black Honey’s self-titled debut writhes and squirms with its Westernisms and iconography, in a way that doesn’t always work.
The imagery of the album seems, and often has in the past, as plainly try-hard. It’s difficult to shake the idea that the fans have grown up, but the lyrics haven’t. The record is full of catchy alt-pop-rock songs, perfectly danceable and entertaining; it’s the lyricism I have a problem with. The holes become clear immediately, with second track ‘Midnight’ containing the lyric “Red lipstick pleased to meet ya/oh, give me tequila”. It feels like Black Honey are shooting buzzwords into the atmosphere and hoping just one of them will stick. There’s no maturation across the rest of the album, with fourth track ‘Bad Friends’ giving us the frankly abysmal “in the bad world/the dreamers/nighttime Lolita”. Perhaps we’re hearing the poetry of a young teenager who thinks smoking Marlboros and reading Beat fiction is the pinnacle of sophistication. The peak of atrocious lyrics is in ‘Blue Romance’, with “Stick and poke/James Dean”. The most frustrating part of this lyrical content is that these are very good pop songs. They all have animated melodies and sultry grooves; it’s only the imagery and lyrics that let the whole record down.
I must reiterate this once more: there is nothing inherently wrong with the record’s lyrics. There’s nothing wrong with appealing to the vintage black and white teenage romance aesthetic. I had just hoped that this record would show a mature and evolved side to Black Honey; it is their debut album, after all. For the sake of a personal anecdote, when I was an immature just-18-year-old who’d had her heart broken for the first time, I resonated with everything on Black Honey’s singles at the time. Now, I’m a 21-year-old who hopefully has her head screwed on a bit more. I’d hoped that Black Honey’s music would grow up with me, but I’ve been considerably disappointed by the record that has been released.
Black Honey’s self-titled debut LP is a record bursting with infectious pop songs and affable grooves. If it’s possible to listen to just the music on the release, then this is an impressive collection of tracks. If we take every aspect of the album into consideration, though, not ignoring the imagery and lyrics, it’s a clumsy, try-hard rendition of the Western Marlboro aesthetic. 4/10.
Listen to the album here: