True to its name, 'In Plain Sight' feels too obvious to excite, and enormous production isn't enough to disguise what is a strangely weightless record
And then there was one. Now the solo project of Stina Tweeddale, Honeyblood’s ‘In Plain Sight’ is a searing third record with clear anthem-baiting ambitions. There are shades of The Kills to be found in these spiky juggernaut riffs. Menacing yé-yé chants linger in the background like a troublesome rabble. John Congleton’s bulked-up production is looming and huge; this is a record made to take up every last nanometer of space available. And yet, despite all of that on-paper potential, ‘In Plain Sight’ just feels too obvious to excite.
As Honeyblood has put it, ‘Third Degree’ fires resentment in the direction of a “shit-head-ex”, and at first glance, heartbreak seems to fuel ‘In Plain Sight’’s most venomous moments. ‘A Kiss From the Devil’ can’t help but be drawn back into the embrace of a lousy wrong’un, while ‘Touch’ turns a similar “torturous to-and-fro” around and around. The albums was recorded over Halloween, and is steeped in gloomily demonic imagery. The sense of striking out alone also seems to apply to Tweeddale’s transition to solo musician. “I’ve got a reason to leave now,” she sings on ‘The Tarantella’, “and music is to survive somehow”.
Through this, ‘In Plain Sight’ has a frustrating tendency to lean on cliché; there’s a nagging feeling of déjà vu in listening to a record that has been made thousands of times before. ‘She’s a Nightmare’ brings Tweeddale’s midnight hallucinations – of a shadowy woman trying to strangle her – to horrifying life, but familiar cat-and-mouse chases and well-trodden declarations like “every turn leads me back to her” feel as laboured as ‘A Kiss From the Devil’s couplets; it’s like trying to stuff a watermelon into a pint glass.
John Congleton’s production sounds comically enormous and out of step, too, and though Tweeddale has a few moments – “Left alone in this big old bed / Thrashing about like a toothless shark in cotton waves” is one such stand-out line from closer ‘Harmless’ – much of ‘In Plain Sight’ is strangely weightless for a record that strives for harsh, hefty rock.
Release date: May 24
Record label: Marathon Artists