Photo Credit: Press
Brighton, England band Black Honey returns with their new album A Fistful of Peaches, released two years (almost to the day) since their last full-length offering, Written & Directed. The name of that album of course was a phrase that is commonly associated with movie credits, and this new title even paraphrases that of the classic 1964 western film A Fistful of Dollars. So with all of these subtle movie references, it sort of fits that, as sequels often do, this new Black Honey album falls just a bit short.
Most of A Fistful of Peaches is relatively solid, with the distinct lead vocals of frontwoman (and guitarist) Izzy Baxter Phillips once again taking the leading role. Yet another nod to film opens the album with “Charlie Bronson,” a track that sets up the strong synth-based indie sound which will dominate much of this album. This particular track is also highlighted by a solid instrumental break. “Up Against It” includes the right amount of ’90s indie rock sound, while “Heavy” is heavy with a classic attention-grabbing hook. The gender-bending “I’m a Man” at least boasts a great chorus.
“Out of My Mind” is also a high point, a solid mix of ’80s pop along with more nods to ’90s indie rock. Speaking of the latter, “Weirdos” is another good one, a tight, multi-part work that suggests the band Garbage or possibly even Celebrity Skin-era Courtney Love and Hole. On the other hand, there’s the mediocre “Cut the Cord,” a so-so attempt at a more current sound that could have been cut from the album’s final track line-up. “OK” is – ironically, also just that (despite a decent bassline), while “Nobody Knows” is an almost completely misguided attempt at an ambient-like sound.
Then there’s “Bummer,” which closes out the album. Using that adjective to describe the whole of A Fistful of Peaches would probably be an overstatement, but nonetheless, the album is – as mentioned – something of a letdown after the band’s previous effort. Even as Black Honey makes an obvious attempt to cram multiple levels of sound and feel into nearly all of the album’s tracks (and successfully more often than not), there’s a glaring lack of variety which seems to hinder the overall work.
However, the biggest problem with A Fistful of Peaches lies with what the band and the production teams seem to feel is the never-ending need to perform studio tricks using Phillips’ lead vocals as the proverbial magic rabbit. There are points in which they do pull this off successfully, particularly on “Rock Bottom.” Which features Phillips doing her own call-and-response. Where there are other cases where this approach works (both on this album and in general), this much of it tends to overshadow the very promising potential of frontwoman Phillips, whose vocal mix of vampiness and bravado has been what makes Black Honey so unique thus far.
Put another way, if we were dealing with a lead singer who had fewer natural assets working for her, this much production might be forgivable or even necessary. However, you’d never know how much Phillips truly has to offer based on this record. All in all, too much of A Fistful of Peaches either isn’t quite ripe or had been over-prepared. Hopefully, they’ll have better luck with their next go-round.