The Scottish duo of Honeyblood originally formed back in 2012 with Stina Tweeddale and Shone Mcvicar originally intending to add other band members before deciding they “weren’t missing anything musically”. But in September 2014, just after the band’s first self-titled album dropped in July, McVicar left the band to pursue other endeavours. Stepping into the role of drummer and vocalist for Honeyblood’s follow up is Cat Myers, and whether Babes Never Die is a natural progression or whether Myers just naturally compliments and collaborates perfectly with Tweeddale doesn’t change the fact that Babes Never Die hits all the right marks and some you didn’t even know you wanted an album to.
Honeyblood have had a flurry of success since their debut with their varying line-up’s, supporting the likes of Foo Fighters, Courtney Barnett, Deap Valley and We Were Promised Jetpacks. It earned them the talents of James Dring as producer for Babes Never Die, who has previously worked with the likes of Jamie T and Gorillaz.
The essence of the twelve-track masterpiece is built around a theme of strength in the face of adversity. Building on their first albums assault on disappointing and infuriating ex’s, Babes Never Die develops the message into a kind of musical armour with lyrics like “Thought I’d go up in flames instead of lights / Strike the match that set me alight / You can watch my fire burn bright” featured throughout.
Stand out tracks include the 90’s alt-rock influenced Ready for the Magic that feels like a mash-up of Riot Grrrl snarl and a blitz of guitar riffs and pounding drums, more reminiscent of more modern duo’s like Drenge or Death From Above 1979. Sea Hearts continues a kind of Riot Grrrl, “fuck em” attitude with Tweeddale proclaimed “We’ll break hearts that get in our way”, but sounds closer to Muncie Girls or Shit Present than more alt rock themed revival.
After the initial four tracks of full throttle pulse-pounding aggression, Love is Disease allows some slight breathing space. The passion is still very much engrained into every track, but these slower additions have a more gritted teeth feel, that’s equally effective whilst offering the opportunity for Honeyblood to ramp up the heart rates later on.
Walking at Midnight, with its epic atmospheric chorus is gothic and epic in equal measure. Showcasing Tweeddale’s phenomenal voice, just as comfortable hitting notes right at the top of the scale before shooting back to a low rumbling growl not just from track to track but verse to verse. Lyrics are punchy, fun and flow smoothly, displayed with a clear clarity to enormous effect. This is the kind of material that’s going to be stuck in your head for days until you’ve fully purged it from your system through some major repeat listening.
The album begins to wrap itself up on Gangs which feels like a haunted warning for those who choose not to act on the albums messages of standing up for yourself. “Don’t let your fears keep you here / They’ll turn into quicksand,” Tweeddale warns, and with the energy that’s been transferred through the rest of the album, it’s nice to think that there will be individuals who listen to Babes Never Die and use it to help themselves out of their own shitty situations.
Babes Never Die is catchy, energetic and bold, featuring expertly crafted tracks that feel like instant anthems. If you finish Honeyblood’s excellent follow-up and don’t feel like you could punch through a brick wall and scream your own rendition of their tracks to an arena, you’ve just not turned the volume up loud enough.