Glaswegian duo Honeyblood came to attention in 2014 with the release of their eponymous debut, paving the way for the 90s grunge rock revival. Their success was somewhat stunted by the departure of drummer Shona McVicar two months after the record’s release, but losing 50% of the band’s membership doesn’t seem to have phased singer Stina Tweeddale, who returns to form here with a new drummer and more attitude than ever before.
Babes Never Die is a sugary, snarling rush of grunge pop – it has a bubblegum sheen to its production which at times seems at odds with Tweeddale’s sharp tongue. Tweeddale joins the ranks of an increasing number of ‘girl-power’ frontwomen, such as Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell and Black Honey’s Izzy B, who are all the more unnerving for their ability to give out a growling roar one second and a soft croon the next.
Like their debut, Honeyblood’s second effort takes no prisoners. ‘Sea Hearts’ sees Tweeddale serve a warning to future lovers, chanting ‘we’ll break hearts that get in our way…. It’s just a little heartbreak’. It’s refreshing to see female figures so unashamedly asserting power over lovers, rather than taking the position of emotional dependence to a man.
Whilst the lyrical content may be distinctive, the album’s sound does feel somewhat generic, each song reliant on driving, distorted guitar riffs and typical verse-chorus structure. It’s when we see glimpses outside of this format that Honeyblood are at their most compelling. The bridge to ‘Walking At Midnight’, for example, sees the band’s sound stripped back to the bare bones, with Tweeddale singing raw and exposed over an acoustic guitar; if only they strayed into this territory for longer than four bars.
As it is, Honeyblood have created a fun, if not entirely convincing addition to the grunge revival with Babes Never Die.