Honeyblood – In Plain Sight

A significant musical evolution for Stina Tweeddale

Three albums into her career as the driving force behind Honeyblood, and Stina Tweeddale's career feels like it's been subject to a significant evolution with In Plain Sight, if not quite yet a graduation. That isn't to say she or her music are lacking in any way here, but rather she's an artist who might be on course for the premiership, such has her voice and ability grown in bounds over the years; and while this doesn't yet feel like the record to make her a star, it's one which has pointed her in the right direction and will wind up the buzz about her to a new degree.

A significant part of this evolution appears to have been her new collaborator, the producer John Congleton, with whom In Plain Sight was recorded in Los Angeles in late 2018. With the group's second drummer Cat Myers now departed to play on tour with Mogwai and KT Tunstall, Tweeddale wrote the demos for the record in isolation, and the production has yielded a different, drummerless sound – one with roots in the Riot Grrrl power-pop which Honeyblood perfected on 2016's Babes Never Die, but with a denser, more electronic style.

It's tempting to look at Congleton's other productions and pick out St Vincent or Goldfrapp as useful comparisons, but the raw confidence of Tweeddale's Edinburgh accent lends itself more to thoughts of Shirley Manson, and she's such a bright pop songwriter that the Garbage comparison holds water. The sparse, piano-led anti-balladry of closing track 'Harmless' aside, In Plain Sight is bright and anthemic, from the driving rock of 'She's a Nightmare' to the Wall of Sound fuzz of 'The Third Degree' and the gleaming electro-glam of 'Touch' and 'You're a Trick'.

Her lyrical allusions are drawn from the classic rock shelves, many suggesting themes of anger, acceptance and recovery around personal relationships of some kind, and while these make the songs universal, they don't quite back up the earworm sensibility of the music. Yet it's an album which delivers in lots of ways, and deserves to advance Honeyblood's reputation yet further.

Out Fri 24 May on Marathon Artists.

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