Album Review: Black Honey – ‘Written & Directed’: a masterclass in vintage nostalgia

THE FOLLOW-UP to Brighton-born behemoths Black Honey’s 2018 self-titled debut album has finally arrived via Foxfive Records.

Written and recorded in between spurts of touring in 2019 (are we bored of saying ‘remember gigs?’ yet?), Written & Directed is a ten-track grand slam, throwing punch after punch of a true and extremely apparent women-to-the-front mission statement.

With an undoubtedly Tarantino-esque theme ranging from the title, through to the bombastic swagger and confidence that exudes throughout, the album is an incredibly successful sequel to its predecessor. Opener “I Like the Way You Die” has a dirty blues vibe whilst simultaneously showcasing their signature fuzz guitar tone. “Run For Cover” gives me serious riff nostalgia of ““Sound of the Underground”, by Girls Aloud, but that’s where the comparison completely ends, other than it being a complete banger. Sonically this song is utterly impressive; it sounds perfectly vintage, with vocalist Izzy B. Phillips’ smoother than honey vocals topping off.

The first single from the album to drop, back in July 2020, “Beaches” is yet again throwing it back to the past with its’ surfer-rock 60s’ California vibes. The video for this is super cool too, utilising some sepia fade vintage effects and hilarious green screen work.

“Believer” is drenched in sunshine and warmth, and showcases the tasteful use of a brass section to perfection. Ballad “I Do It To Myself” is the longest on the record at 3 minutes 37, which shows just how punchy and fast-paced Written & Directed really is. This track perfectly blends stabbing percussion with a shimmering, warped phasing synthesizer to keep things effortlessly dreamy. “Disinfect” is easily the heaviest venture on the album, whilst not being at all out of place due to keeping things stylistically similar to the rest through the prominent classic percussive elements.

The surfer vibe returns for “Summer ’92”; I am living for the instantly recognisable guitar tones from Chris Ostler even at this late stage in the album. I think the main thing that’s standing out to me when listening is the impeccable production job that’s been done here. Closer “Gabrielle” is dreamy and wistful, and the perfect epilogue if this were a film soundtrack, which is exactly how it sounds.

Written & Directed is an absolute masterclass in vintage nostalgia without it being cheesy. Black Honey are leading the way for bands to experiment beyond their typecast genre and just find a niche sound and execute it to the nth degree. This is one of my favourite releases so far this year, and I can’t wait for them to get back on the road so we can hear these beautiful tracks in a live setting.

The album is released on Friday, March 19th; you can pre-order Written & Directed here!

Follow Black Honey at their website, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Spotify.

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