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Album Review: Honeyblood - In Plain Sight


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Honeyblood released three singles from In Plain Sight this year, each illustrated by Chrysa Koukara’s artwork of hand-sketched tarot cards, flowers shelved between potions, and a fish swimming through a melancholic crescent moon.

Album Art 'In Plain Sight' (2019)

The artwork heralded what was to come musically in an album full of haunting motifs, earthy undertones and the notion of a predetermined, traced-back-to-roots fate. Unfortunately, the album is mostly just a fumble through these incomplete, scatty half-truths. It seems like inverted folklore tales pulled out from the earth and cast with a contemporary hex. Inspired by visions of a female figure who haunted her, it's a sinister and suspenseful take on grunge-punk.

‘She’s a Nightmare’ sounds like attempting to escape a hellish maze. Its twists into numerous snares are ushered in by picked electric guitar and pizzicato violin that progresses then rewinds to its starting-point after each melodic repetition. The strewed directions, drawing away and then towards the "she" of the title, form a misconstrued image – a telescopic effect of two humans magnified and diminished, the singer a “dormouse” and the object a “cat”, intercepted between dark paths, incomplete shadows, and doors. ‘Twisting the Aces’ also uses simple picked guitar, with a more prominent drumbeat, and unnerving xylophone. Lyrically, too, it’s more open with the rural woodland setting, embracing a bleeding “wound” to “seep out secrets”.

In Plain Sight pans between primitive, uncontrollable emotions. The twisted ‘The Third Degree’, expurges a past relationship in an epitome of punk-rock. ‘Glimmer’ explores untouched passions. It features underwater-sounding vocals that engulf Tweeddale and the motif of darkness as deception signals continuity between this album and ‘Walking at Midnight’ from 2016's Babes Never Die

One of the more experimental tracks on the album is ‘You’re a Trick’, with its detuned piano and dissonance. It’s messy-sounding with shrill guitar riffs, that create a disorientating effect for the listener. The lyrics also reflect an internal contradiction between “delving deeper” and being “thrown away”. The close of the track blinks back the brewing outpouring of emotion and finishes with a brisk rewind to the state of “limbo” at the start. ‘Harmless’ also uses piano, but here it's completely mellow, using three chords which shift key occasionally. It’s a ballad lamenting aloofness; a “curse” which Tweeddale seems to embrace despite being “taken in by wolves” in the chaotic “wilderness”.

Setting the scene at a “dinner party of wolves”, ‘Gibberish’ is a fast-paced, chanting track on twisting information. ‘Touch’ focuses on delayed messages, using echoes, cowbells, and springy synthesisers varying in pitch as “alarm bells”. A few of these tracks sound like a half-formed hue and cry - a seductive screeching of condemnation.  With its “collision inescapable”, ‘Take the Wheel’ addresses Honeyblood’s mantra of female empowerment with the electric guitar as an engine building up and burning energy, despite its messiness. ‘Tarantella’ is also delayed by beginning with a false start. This, however, is just part of the jagged guitar that enables the vocals, which are also typically distorted, to become ocular. Yet the angelic backing vocals jar within the “deadly nightshade” context of the rest of the album.

In Plain Sight is at times messy and confusing. This doesn't detract from its power to bewitch, even if the vision feels, at times, half-formed. It's an apprehensive and inconsistent listening experience, as the various fates on the tarot cards are overturned.

In Plain Sight is out now.

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