Sugar-sweet rock with SCANDAL on “Honey”

“Honey” is a rock album with introspective and emotional lyrics, sometimes bordering to punk and sometimes to balads. Soundwise they have ditched most of their pop influences, but it’s still present in their choruses, with guitarist Mami Sasazaki giving the album a lot of hit quality with her catchy lead melodies. All together the four members create a solid rock sound accompaning the album’s bittersweet topics.

Scandal was once known as the band with four singing members – they can all sing and they are all natural front personas, even though Haruna now is the obvious lead singer. Still the other members overtake the mic now and then, for example on the disco-isch “Midnight City”, where drummer Rina Suzuki gets the spotlight, and on “Oh! No!”, where Mami sings about being in love and making yourself look pretty, ultimately making you fall in love with yourself instead. Mami’s vocals are no doubt the most personal and quirky elements of the album – perhaps because she sings her own lyrics? Main singer Haruna mostly sings lyrics by Rina, which lets her go into different personas and keep a distance to the lyrics, which she does in a professional but slightly less personal way.

According to the band, Honey was planned with the words “sweet and sharp” in mind, for everything from the music to the lyrics and the visual aspects. This shows in the album cover and booklet, where the members show off a soft and sensual side of themselves, all in the color red. They put their femininity on the front, and lately they have done that a lot. They have taken a clear stand on being a “girl band” in a manly dominated world, in a way that feels more progressive than conservative (“We decided to fight using weapons unique to women instead of being the same as male bands. Just because we’re a band doesn’t mean that we want to get rid of our femininity.”) They want to show the good sides of their femininity and give a positive message to the listener. At the same time, Honey may be the rawest and hardest Scandal release yet, and I find this combination of energies very interesting.

“Koisuru Universe” ends the album, praising a Universe full of love, with two of the band members “fan service” kissing each other in the music video. A ballsy move for being two girls in a conservative Japan. I remember this moment very well.

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