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Black Honey: ‘A Fistful Of Peaches’ is loud, emotive and slightly one note

A review of the Brighton band's third album which is worth persevering with if you don't get it at first.

Two albums down and fast approaching their tenth anniversary, Brighton band Black Honey are on the cusp of something big.


Where their self-titled 2018 debut ensured they were spoken about as one of the brightest names in the indie underground, second album Written & Directed went further. Certainly one of the most accessible indie rock albums of 2021: 30 minutes of sassy, heavy and sweet blues rock anthems inspired by the world of film director Quentin Tarantino. It earned them a number 7 album chart finish to boot.


As a result of the acclaim received from their last, the quartet were hand selected to support a host of names you’d now consider British indie royalty: Liam Gallagher, The Libertines, IDLES and The Vaccines. Added to this was their own sold out headline tour - further recognition that the sky really was and is their limit.


Almost two years to the day since their last album release, the quartet are back with a new focus on third effort A Fistful of Peaches. The Brighton band’s new one is their most personal and open album yet.


After an intense period of therapy following issues which arose during lockdown, including hallucinations and dissociating, singer Izzy Bee Phillips pours her mental health struggles over her band’s latest collection of songs. “I’ve had to be more honest and vulnerable with myself", admits Phillips in an album press release. She continues, “but I feel like I’d be disservicing anyone who spends their time and passion and energy into this project to not fucking unveil it all.


On curtain raiser ‘Charlie Bronson’, Black Honey have never sounded so gnarly and belligerent. The frontwoman throws us straight into her despair, signing a “postcard from my padded cell / direct from my private hell”. Later she compares her mental state to the violent British prisoner of the title’s name. As an introduction, the unease created by the raw, dirty riff initially makes for an uncomfortable listen. It pays off a few hearings later. Well, just about. Its hard to ignore how the chorus chant (“I’m Charlie fucking Bronson!”) has Phillips straying a little too close to sounding like a Joe Talbot (of IDLES fame) impersonator.


Baby pick me up I feel so heavy / don’t think I can fake it anymore” pleads Phillips on second track ‘Heavy’. Such blatant vulnerability immediately gains empathy from the listener. On ‘Up Against It’, the singer gives a pep talk to her younger self. Where the track underwhelms, is saved by its frantic advice-filled bridge: “And it's okay to not know yourself, yet / But in time, I guess, you'll feel alright / And it's okay to not feel like everything's fine“.


On ‘OK’, Phillips shows empathy again, except this time her focus is outward. She shows compassion to a friend suffering from anxiety, providing a reminder she’ll always be there for them. Despite feeling utterly ill-quipped to help, she’ll try to be a “Romeo” type hero anyway. The song itself is thumping,sweet and honest, an arm round the shoulder for anyonefeeling down. Released as a single prior to the album’s release, the track is one which stuck out as an immediate favourite.


On ‘Rock Bottom’, Phillips wonders if she’s “still breathing” before clarifying: ”I’m not sure / rock bottom and the floor keeps dropping“. With this, they’ve produced another lovelyearworm of a track not afraid to delve into depression and low self-esteem issues. ‘Weirdos’ is summarised by its singalong chorus, being a “song for the weirdos, the antiheroes, won’t fit it in if you try”. The tenth album tracks stands out for its ominous sound and eerie bassline, which is arguably as diverse as we get over this record.


Black Honey’s third album is full of heavy guitars and big choruses, sprinkling some sweetness throughout. Make no mistake, this is an alt rock record to be played LOUD. Albeit the lack of variety is off-putting. At least initially.


On the first couple of listens the whole album blends into theone experience which doesn’t exactly demand a revisit to the casual listener. Though once you do return, highlight tracks eventually surface like cream rising to the top. Before long, many of these songs are fit to ‘like’ and add to your indie 2023 playlist alongside some of this year’s other big bangers.


A Fistful of Peaches is darker and heavier both in sound andlyrical themes addressed. This, of course, creates an unavoidable contrast to their last. Written & Directed was incredibly immediate but perhaps lacked the substance to revisit long after its release. Here the opposite is achieved. If you aren’t taken by this instantly, eventually you’ll get there and come around to the record’s many earworms. The outpouring of vulnerability and mental health suffering provides a strong point of empathy for us to get on board with.


A progression from their first two records to further solidify their standing within the indie mainstream.

 

7/10

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