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Black Honey's Written & Directed: sugar-coated badass swagger with a problem

Sassy Brighton pop-punks Black Honey make a familiar but fun racket on second album Written & Directed

Black Honey: Written & Directed
(Image: © Foxfive Records)

Brighton guitar quartet Black Honey have followed a familiar indie-rock career path since their 2014 debut, nabbing an NME cover, supporting Queens Of The Stone Age, and pressing all the right teen-friendly tame-rebel buttons to secure Reading Festival slots and BBC 6Music plays. 

But even if their brightly hued pop-punk sound feels formulaic and conservative, singer Izzy B Phillips exudes sassy frontwoman charisma, while her guitar-fondling boyslaves make a generally exciting racket on this polished second album.

Fuzzed-up stompers like Run For Cover and Believer are shallow, but the fun Summer ‘92 already feels like a future arena-sized anthem, and Disinfected is impressively forensic retro-grunge pastiche complete with dynamic loud-quiet structure and humongous, moshpit-rocking chorus. 

Phillips also does romantic sweetness with conviction, from intoxicated melodic chugger Back Of The Bar to the woozy, stripped-down, gently menacing chanson Gabrielle. Their sugar-coated badass swagger might be toothless and adolescent, but sometimes teenage dreams are hard to beat.