Text: Paul van der Zalm
Black Honey’s second album, released in 2021, was called Written & Directed, a title you naturally immediately associate with the credits of a film or TV series. Now, two years later, there is a new album: A Fistful of Peaches, which naturally brings to mind that famous spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars. And although famous actor Charles Bronson did not play a part in it (which could have been), it is then only a small step to the title of the opening track Charlie Bronson. However, this song, which was the first prelude to the new album in August, is not so much about him as it is about someone who identifies with him, under the influence of opiates. This immediately sets the tone for the other lyrics, as they all seem to stem from frontwoman Izzy B(axter) Phillips’ struggles and the therapy she followed to fight it.
That fighting is then reflected quite plastically in the music video and musically, too, the band goes in with a straight leg, even firmer than in Heavy, which follows. Again, a lot of creativity has gone into the music video, made with and by drag queen Dakota Schiffer. Musically, this is something of a master sampler with distorted guitars and Phillips singing tongue-in-cheek over it. This gives the whole thing quite a camp feel and therefore comes across as less serious than a band like Yonaka, to which the sound here can be compared.
It seems Phillips is not showing all of her thoughts after all and is playing a bit of hide-and-seek. In Up Against It, she encourages her younger self: “Breathe in, breathe out / Give yourself a break, kid” which is again fittingly depicted in the video as children play a younger version of Black Honey in it. The band itself gets into action in the clip for Out of My Mind, which also really sounds like a band song, and which the few attending the concert in (the small hall of) Paradiso June 2022 could already witness. Notable in this are the two vocal lines that give the numner a somewhat schizophrenic character musically.
We can be fairly brief about the rest of the songs, as they all pretty much follow the same pattern: they start quietly and end wildly, the guitars sound mostly overdriven but rather flat and the variation (also within the songs) is mainly found in Philllips’ vocals. The band mainly seems to be applying to be included with their songs on the soundtrack of a film, for instance, as you always hear them at the credits. To be honest, I expected more singularity in the band’s sound than this by now, as I’m a Man sounds like Wolf Alice’s Moaning Lisa Smile, for instance, and Tombstone like a song by Blood Red Shoes. Positive exception is Nobody Knows, a sensitive song where the minutes seem to be ticking away in the background and ahead: closing track Bummer also sounds slightly different due to the use of the synth beat.