Written & Directed, Black Honey’s sophomore album, saturates the cinematic tone established in their acclaimed self-titled debut. The suggestive name and cover foreshadow the album’s glamour-and-gore sonic landscape and match the Tarantino-esque music videos Black Honey adore (death, discos and POV shots) – the opening track even references Django Unchained.
Throughout the album Black Honey maintain their infamous character, syrupy vocals, and nostalgic hooks, while also developing their sound, mastering it in the sequel. The album swallows indie movies and regurgitates them as sound – brass accents arousing Gatsby-esque scenes, westerns and gothic romances.
The album opens with stormy drums and crunchy bass in ‘I Like The Way You Die’. House piano intervals create tension before grainy choruses explode and drums march into battle. Instruments in ‘Run For Cover’ race one another as spooky pre-choruses, hoarse guitar and vocals conjure haunted dance scenes. Show-tune brass, deliciously rebellious vocals and speak-singing swim through ‘Beaches,’ the perfect summer track.
The bass in ‘Back of the Bar’ blossoms before sliding into eeriness while midwestern guitars and choral refrains spread through ‘Believer,’ marking the album’s anthemic centre. ‘I Do It To Myself’ springboards from ‘Believer’ with kickline brass and exposing lyrics punching as high as heaven. ‘Disinfect’ brushes against political themes, while also inducing moshpit nostalgia and possessing instruments with screaming demons.
‘Summer ’92’ points toward The Breakfast Club, post-punk-bedroom-pop and hallucinogens all at once. ‘Fire’ burns toward the album’s close, devotional organs and shameless lyrics marking it as the counterpart to ‘Believer’. The track’s resilience builds muscle where other songs made tears. Black Honey mirror their debut’s structure and end on ‘Gabrielle,’ another name. It sings the album’s momentum to sleep, and recedes into haunting whispers.
Written & Directed stays true to Black Honey’s alt-rock roots and simultaneously spans many musical and cinematic genres. The songs are both catchy and surprising, and the performances are wonderfully nuanced. Though sonically diverse, the album feels complete and precise. Black Honey have concreted their cult-classic style while also demonstrating their experimental abilities, with their strong song-writing and aesthetic promising an upward trajectory.