Brighton-formed Black Honey has released their sophomore album Written & Directed this week, and it's certainly one hell of a performance.
Written & Directed is a step up from their debut self-titled release, as it appears they've become more consistent in what their sound is and their place within the rock genre.
The album leads in with, which by title alone sets the scene for the rest of the album. You could see Written & Directed as a very cinematic album, which is not only shown in the title of the album but also with the subtle references to movies throughout, which begins in this album opener. I like the way you die boy could easily be a reference to Tarantino's Django Unchained.
The band has said themselves that they are inspired by cinema, from Westerns to Tarantino to the weird and wonderful of David Lynch, and the album certainly expresses this mix between cinema and music. Any given track, particularly songs like 'Run For Cover' with lyrics such as "Loud as thunder / Burst like a blister / It's no wonder / You should run for cover" can be pictured within an action movie setting which is clearly the vibe Black Honey was giving off from the get-go.
Baxter Phillips' vocals go incredibly well with the general sound of the album. It would be easy for the vocals to get lost in amongst the intense guitars and the heavy drums, but they hold their own which is a testament to both the vocals and the production of the album
Some songs step away from the heavy rock and step, almost borderline into soul,. Particularly on 'I Do It To Myself', an edgy testament to being toxic, which has an acoustic guitar underlining a heavy baseline with not much else on top of it. You can also find trumpets in the instrumentals of many songs in the album, which is a little unexpected with the usual tone of Black Honey's music, but do add a little bit of something different. This is where we see genre slowly falling away and Black Honey finding something new that maybe they haven't quite mastered yet but is certainly an interesting departure from the relatively basic heavy rock of some of the other tracks.
Written & Directed builds throughout, so it was perhaps a little disappointing for it to end on a lowkey acoustic number rather than a heavy-handed finale. This acoustic ballad which serves as a modern-day 'Jolene' type love story is by no means a bad song and does showcase the band's ability to be more lowkey, but it just feels oddly placed at the end of an album that has featured so much showmanship and intensity.
Overall, Written & Directed is a raucous album from Black Honey, and features some really great tracks. However, perhaps it's more the construction of the album that isn't ideal. That being said, in an era of singles and streaming, the composition of an album is no longer really a priority, so you can understand why it may have fallen off the wayside a little bit.
Written & Directed is a great sophomore album and definitely worth listening to if heavy rock is your thing.