Honest and futuristic songs, but their bravely genreless nature can also feel rudderless...

Honeyblood’s third LP sees the Glasgow outfit fully formed, producing their most ambitious LP to date. ‘In Plain Sight’ sees Stina Tweeddale take centre stage, develop Honeyblood’s sound solo ­– blurring the boundaries of genre, focusing on big, bold songwriting and expanding her sonic horizons. Alongside super-producer John Congleton, ‘In Plain Sight’ merges Honeyblood’s more traditional post-punk sound with futuristic sci-fi drones and thumping yet fuzzy basslines.

Upon returning home following a long stretch touring, Stina began having nightmares: hallucinations of a woman coming to strangle her haunted many sleepless nights, but then became central to the record. Opening track, ‘She’s A Nightmare’, narrates these unusual happenings, accompanied by creepy piano sounds that truly encapsulate the atmosphere of a haunted house. Yet it feels like something is being held back here. Throughout the track, there’s the feeling that something is about to be unleashed, but it never truly arrives…resulting in an underwhelming start which is salvaged by the following two tracks, ‘The Third Degree’ and ‘A Kiss From The Devil’.

The buzzing basslines and gritty, more confident vocal gives both tracks stadium prowess, the former a grunge-infused ode-to-her-ex tune. Congleton’s influence first becomes apparent on these two tracks, the constant droning reminiscent of a St. Vincent tune.

‘Gibberish’ is a return to the post-punk, riot grrl sounds we’ve grown used to with Honeyblood, meanwhile ‘Touch’ pays homage to Stina’s Depeche Mode influences, whilst also offering something new. It sounds like the moment a gang of villainous space invaders step out of a U.F.O, bright lights beaming behind them. Bombastic sci-fi sounds are the core of this track and the majority of the album. Congleton, who’s made these his staple, has clearly played a key role in Honeyblood’s sonic development.

Yet the ideas run out eventually, the intrigue forged early on – as Honeyblood set out their new ideas – is lost, the record falling back into sounds heard on previous records. Tweeddale’s lyricism becomes muffled and less focused, it’s harder to discern her narrative and message and as a result, it becomes easy to lose interest.

However, the album’s finale, ‘Harmless’, brings the focus back. Sounding like a hidden track from ‘A Star Is Born’, the slower, piano, anti-ballad finally pushes Tweeddale’s lyricism to the forefront. The oxymoronic nature of this song demonstrates Tweeddale’s creative qualities, using the format of traditional love songs to paint a portrait of personal failure and faults, it’s beautifully unconventional, much like the rest of the record.

Not without its faults, ‘In Plain Sight’ sees Honeyblood explore new avenues and break-out of any box they were previously placed in, with a genre-less collection of honest, futuristic-sounding songs.


Words: Johnny Rogerson

Dig It? Dig Deeper: St. Vincent, Estrons, Sharon Van Etten

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