Honours: Duchess – single review
Honours, the Rock n Roll 4-piece from York, release their second single. David Beer reviews for Louder Than War.
There’s something claustrophobic about the way the sneered opening vocal line of Honours second single Duchess greets the listener. It drags us into a world with little time or space to breath, where hesitation might cast doubt, where assuredness is the only way to go. This is the sound of a band in a hurry.
Honours have only existed for a few months yet there is a compelling confidence to this emerging York based outfit. With a standard 4-piece set up and describing themselves as ‘indie rock n roll’, the tone is unapologetic. For an early release, following their debut single Freedom, Duchess has a certain staying power, a hurried swagger even. Its vibrant energy is its main draw. After a few bars of swaying guitar a pulsing drive emerges, but it just isn’t clear that the band are quite sure where to channel all this energy. The track kicks in without quite kicking anything over.
Despite the energy, Honours seem to be holding back a bit, constrained by something. It’s a catchy song that, without quite managing to match the hooks or subtle melodies, recalls, in slightly more frenetic form, The Las or maybe The Coral. It’s verve reflects something closer to The Cribs.
Perhaps it’s an element of risk that is missing here. Given the song’s theme, I was hoping it might twist or become twisted in the way that Tommy Hunt sings I Just Don’t Know What to do with Myself, switching from sadness, to anger and then to lonely desperation. Instead the music follows a similar pattern to the vocal, reiterating rather than diverting.
Duchess is a good listen, with a compelling scratchy riff and beating rhythms, but it just lacks an extra dimension or two, musically and lyrically, that might have given the buzzing energy somewhere to go. Something was needed to break expectations. This is skilful song writing, impressive in fact, but it just seems to fence itself in a little. The band seem to be bouncing around in a box they’ve created for themselves. It’s a nice box, but I kept hoping they might burst through the carboard. Honours definitely have the clout, hopefully they might also find a way to surprise and maybe even disrupt things a bit. Duchess gives the impression that there is something on the horizon for Honours, something they are bustling towards, it just doesn’t quite get there, yet.