Album review: Katy B – Honey


Katy B has achieved a lot since her introduction to the limelight in 2010. Alongside Magnetic Man (her cousin Skream, Benga and Artwork) and Miss Dynamite, she released some of the most successful crossover tracks at the time…

Three albums later and she unleashes Honey, crediting some impressive names for its production and features. Kaytranada, Four Tet, Wilkinson, Major Lazer, Craig David, Geeneus, MssingNo, Mr Mitch and more. Expect disco, hip-hop, drum and bass, garage and grime, produced by a prime selection of talent. While Craig David may split opinions, brave choices like Floating Points, MssingNo, Mr Mitch and Four Tet prove that this is not a regular pop album.

coverThe opening track with Kaytranada on the buttons has a laid back vibe and a chunky bass line that we expect from him. Katy’s vocals bring something fresh to the table, with a producer who made his name largely by bootlegging 90’s r&b vocals. This combination clashes slightly however and does not quite have the impact that a first track should. Next up Who Am I featuring Craig David has a cheesy chorus and Flume inspired production packed full of pitched snare rolls, and chopped up vocals. While the first two pieces have underwhelmed slightly, the Wilkinson produced So Far Away is an instant classic. Harking back to the sounds of DJ Fresh and Rita Ora’s Hot Right Now, it keeps things radio friendly without losing underground credibility. Ram Records’ Wilkinson has utilised drum and bass cliches, such as sweeping intros and sliced breaks, as well as a more modern sound palette, with steel drums and summery synths.

There are a few disappointing tracks that follow, even grime legend D Double E falls flat on Lose Your Head, which at times sounds like something the Spice Girls may have recorded. With her Rinse FM affiliations it was only a matter of time before some house appeared on this project. Chris Lorenzo is a name that has been involved in the majority of successful bass house releases since the genre’s birth. This one unfortunately sounds like it’s lifted straight from the 90’s and is lacking his usual grit. Even the vocal melody in places sounds too familiar, possibly taking too much inspiration from the past. Four Tet on the other hand has once again managed to pull off an amalgamation of quirky techno and garage, a style that unfortunately doesn’t lend itself particularly well to Katy’s vocals. A much better match up comes in the form of Heavy, with Boxxed / Planet Mu affiliate and Gobstopper Records founder Mr Mitch. Even if at times the vocal melodies don’t quite fit, they can be forgiven as the majority of the track sounds brilliant.

After a few more decent pop tracks, where Katy is clearly in her element, we are introduced to Water Rising, produced by the in demand MssingNo which is a rare treat from a guy who prefers quality to quantity. There is no doubt that this track has some beautiful moments, but again I am unsure whether this is their best work. The trend of producers playing it safe continues with the relatively bland pairing with Hannah Wants. After the news that Chris Lorenzo ghost produced the majority of Hannah’s material, it is surprising to see them both claiming production credits on the same album. Another Rinse DJ, Geeneus creates the outro which does not play out as you would expect. It is a pleasant surprise that eases out of the album well, but does not do much to excite.

With so much talent on this album it is difficult to forgive its lack of quality. Whether it’s the pairings that are to blame, or possibly the watering down of certain producers to fit on a Virgin released album is unclear. Heavy and So Far Away are strong tracks and show some real versatility, whereas in many areas there are obvious clashes. No doubt some of the more traditional pop tracks will prove to be very popular, but the plethora of interesting beat makers promised great things. Some of the biggest collaborations were the most underwhelming, meaning the album as a whole may not succeed in the same way as her earlier works.