“I will hate you forever!” goes ‘Super Rat’, ”Scumbag sleaze! Slimeball grease! You really do disgust me!” Look, honestly, our phone just ran out of battery. Can we at least get our Sufjan box-set back? Be careful with that, it’s coloured viny… oof! Yes, bullies, bastards and bullshitters beware, Glasgow’s Honeyblood have cooked up 40 minutes of sonic chemical castration and they’re coming for every lover and loser that’s ever fucked them over.
The demon-eyed duo’s debut, recorded in Connecticut with The National’s producer Peter Katis, makes for a delightful demasculation. Singer/guitarist Stina Tweeddale spits her furious spiteballs on ‘All Dragged Up’, ‘Bud’ and ‘Killer Bangs’ in a voice steeped in honeycomb Americana and Honeyblood’s music is similarly venom-sweet. It bridges the decades between the fiery fem-pop of the grunge era – Throwing Muses, The Breeders, Hole, Juliana Hatfield, Madder Rose, early PJ Harvey – and Wolf Alice’s current wave of emotionally abrasive noir rock, while dipped deep in Glasgow’s reservoir of sophisticated noise-mongering and breathless indie melody. Which makes it, true to its title, like getting a cannon blast of marshmallow direct to the face.
Though the album opens wracked with vitriol, violence and revenge – Stina piling into some sleazebag ex, ”the smartest rat in the sewer!”, on the deceptively cuddly ‘Super Rat’ – as hints of Spector’s girl-groups and country pop reflection creep in ‘Honeyblood’ gradually turns from cathartic anger to self-help therapy. ”All the pain you’ve been through will be the making of you,” Stina tells herself on the shoegazey ‘Biro’; ”What doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger,” she insists, watching her lover – and possible psychopath – slip away to another blood-stained infidelity on the Hole-like ‘Choker’. By ‘No Spare Key’ she’s driven herself half-insane, unraveling like a sanitarium shuffler: ”Do you ever think your brain might be conspiring against you?/It keeps you awake at night/And it ends up just you and your dirty mind”.
Just as you start to hope that ‘Honeyblood’ might be following Tweeddale’s emotional journey from messy break-up to eventual acceptance, she’s right back where she started from, yelling “why don’t you just grow up!” at some immature dumbass and bewailing “another fucking bruise” on the closing epic ‘Braidburn Valley’. The doomed relationship cycle in eternal motion or the sound of a heart that won’t stay mended, ‘Honeyblood’ is visceral pop music giving its prettiest snarl.