HONNE // 'LOVE ME/LOVE ME NOT' - ALBUM REVIEW
FILLED WITH HUMOUR, INTIMACY AND EMOTION - ELECTRO-SOUL DUO HONNE RELEASE SECOND ALBUM ‘LOVE ME/LOVE ME NOT’
Off the back of their 2016 full-length debut Warm On a Cold Night, HONNE return with a long-awaited second effort in Love Me/Love Me Not - an album that retains the after-hours, emotive electronic soul of their previous releases, yet with a new depth of experimentalism to add to their palette.
Adopting an unorthodox approach not so unlike the one taken from Oh Wonder's playbook, the London-based duo elected to release two songs a month, rather than deliver the final product as a whole. This has done us the honour of seeing the complete picture of Love Me/Love Me Not being painted as time has passed, and startlingly it has been effective. James Hatcher and Andy Clutterbuck have also fallen into the sometimes classic trap of proclaiming the record as a concept album - side A 'Love Me' deals with the joys one finds in life, while side B 'Love Me Not' answers the more trialling times modern life can bring. And to be fair: it's not just a loose idea thrown in the mix to improve its marketability, the album does expand on these concepts rather than just conform.
Love Me/Love Me Not gets off to a rough start though, in ‘I Might’ - which sounds somewhat disjointed and thrown together - the ship fortunately steadying itself through the groovy ‘Me & You’, featuring London beatmaker/guitarist Tom Misch. It’s the first of many memorable collaborations on the record - BEKA’s vocals add a heavy dose of emotion to stand-out track ‘Crying Over You’, while Drake producer Nana Rogues’ influence can be felt throughout the silky R’n’B of ‘I Got You’. There’s various other cameos hidden away - Reuben James is featured on (the ironically forgettable) ‘Forget Me Not’, whilst none other than Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett lends his voice to the closing seconds of ‘Shrink’.
HONNE do leave some surprises for the listener in place, hinting they only take themselves seriously about 90% of the time. ‘306’ should be a textbook example of an uplifting anthem to bridge the album nicely, yet it is hard to take to seriously when it references Hatcher’s beloved Peugeot 306. Literally. Also of note - the aforementioned ‘Shrink’ takes a page from Radiohead’s ‘The National Anthem’ for a chaotic brass-filled middle-eight (because why not), and an almost hilariously timed MLG airhorn sample as Clutterbuck laments about chronic anxiety…..answers on a postcard?
Even if the songwriting has taken a minor step back, the duo’s production abilities still lead for crystal clear, hard-hitting instrumentals. Take ‘Crying Over You’ - where a wave of cordial synthesizers does nothing but bolster BEKA’s serene vocals - and ‘Day 1’, a groove-infested anthem made so by a weaving piano arrangement and a beat that slaps you round the face as soon as it drops. HONNE have progressed well in the realm of engineering more space for their occasionally intricate sound to work with, and Love Me/Love Me Not really benefits as a result.
Love Me/Love Me Not has the aura of intimacy whilst being self-aware of the ideas/emotions it brings up over its run time, and it's a far better record for it. It’s a shame that it is not entirely consistent, yet there’s more than enough quality (and merriment) on display to render it a success.
In support of Love Me/Love Me Not, HONNE are embarking on a international tour that sees them head stateside and to Europe over the coming months, before a series of headline dates across the UK - including a headline show at London’s Brixton Academy on November 24th.
HONNE - Love Me/Love Me Not is out now via Tatemae Recordings. Stream the album below: