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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.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.