New band of the week: Black Honey (No 82)

Like the idea of Lana Del Rey singing girl-group pop accompanied by indie shoegazers? Try this Brighton four-piece

Hometown: Brighton.

The lineup: Izzy Baxter, (vocals, guitar) Chris Ostler (guitar), Tommy Taylor (bass), Tom Dewhurst (drums).

The background: Black Honey are one of the indie bands to watch for 2016. They’ve been under the proverbial radar for over a year and in fact they rather like it that way – “If it was my way we’d still be a secret band,” claims the singer – but unfortunately they made the mistake of writing songs with potential mass (indie) appeal. The usual Annie Macs, Huw Stephens and Phil Taggarts have been clambering to support them, and Spotify plays by actual humans are fast approaching the million mark.

What are they like? Put it this way: if Lana Del Rey was (in) a rock band, it would sound like Black Honey. “What,” we note your reply (we have great hearing), “you mean like Lush?” Yes, Black Honey are quite Lush-ish. You might even say they’re Lush-ous, only a bit classicist, less 4AD than Telstar. They blend, or rather create a burning pyre out of, girl-group pop and shoegazing guitar noise. They are fans equally of FX pedals and the lasting impact of a simple melody.

Madonna, from their 2014 debut EP, is slow-burning, where dusty, David Lynch-noir Americana meets the Thames Valley. Their latest single, Corrine, has the twanging guitar of a bygone era and the wooziness of post-MBV noisepop. The opening couple of lines set the scene: “Corrine, come back to me, cos it’s six in the morning and we’re only playing make-believe / Corrine, come back to me / We live in a movie that nobody else will ever see.” Only the band’s explanation of the lyric – it was apparently written after Baxter had “a drunken fight with my best friend who moved away to Ibiza and it’s my way of apologising/asking her to come home” – snaps you out of your romantic reverie and the illusion that the action took place in some neon Guy Peellaert dreamscape.

Spinning Wheel is like Mazzy Star produced by Joe Meek in 1961 – you keep expecting singer Izzy Baxter to start imploring Johnny to remember her. Titles such as Sleep Forever and Bloodlust deliver on most of their narcotic, hypnotic promise. Teenager is more 90s but Baxter’s sultry, dead-eyed drawl, heavy on the gangster-Nancy-Sinatra, keeps dragging the band back into a pre-rock mire, which we definitely mean as a compliment. The Taste has a typically circular, repetitive structure - again, not necessarily a complaint. It’s the best way to get the desired effect, which is mesmeric.

The buzz: “Stylishly sad.”

The truth: If Joe Meek was a producer during the Scene That Celebrates Itself era…

Most likely to: Enjoy a critical honeymoon.

Least likely to: Be ultraviolent.

What to buy: The single Corrine is out now on Foxfire.

File next to: Lush, Mazzy Star, Lana Del Rey, Cowboy Junkies.


Ones to watch: Haty Haty, Morning Smoke, Inheaven, Asha, Leif Erikson.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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