Honne – ‘Love Me / Love Me Not’ review

Score

The English electro-R&B duo return with a more experimental, but characteristically romantic second album stuffed with top-drawer collaborations and rap influences

Words: Caitlin O’Reilly

Love them or love them not, Andy Clutterbuck & James Hatcher, a.k.a London producers Honne, burst onto the scene in 2016 and soon had hearts a-fluttering for their modern brand of late-night soul music. That year’s debut album ‘Warm on a Cold Night’ drew comparisons to early Quincy Jones productions, and tracks such as ‘Coastal Love’, with its crackly, warm tones, wouldn’t have been out of place on a retro New York radio station.

Sonically speaking, follow-up ‘Love Me / Love Me Not’ launches Honne into the daytime, with brighter, quirkier production. ‘Shrink’ is one of the most adventurous tracks on the album, bouncing through audio clips, dancehall air-horns and the sort of video game sound effects that are all over the place at the moment. ‘Love Me / Love Me Not’ also sets itself apart from its predecessor through impressive collaborations. ‘Me & You’ sees the duo combine forces with guitar-maestro and fellow smooth dude Tom Misch. Full of funky bass and guitar, it’s an uplifting stand-out track.

The excellent R&B hook of ‘I Got You’, meanwhile, is the result of working with ‘Passionfruit’ writer and generally in-demand music maker Nana Rogues. On other tracks, though, Honne seem to be trying too hard to re-create the magic of their 2016 bittersweet duet with Izzy Bizu; while ‘Location Unknown’ – featuring new talent Georgia – works well, Anna of the North’s contribution on ‘Feels So Good’ lulls at times.

Some may tire of Honne’s romantic lyricism, but it’s undeniably what they do best. As Clutterbuck sings ‘On Day 1’, to the swell of a gospel choir, “Everyone wants to love / It’s easy when you try hard enough”, you’re reminded of the band’s ability to create moving, alternative love songs. Reassuringly for Honne’s original fans, then, ‘Love Me / Love Me Not’ is still very much a love album – just an even more adventurous and exciting one than its predecessor.

Details

Release date: August 24
Record label: Tatemae Recordings