After major success with their self-titled debut EP in 2019, Dirty Honey hit the road with everyone from Guns N’ Roses to The Who. They became the first unsigned band to top the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and their breakthrough single “When I’m Gone” currently has over 10 million streams on Spotify alone. Now the LA-based band is back with their debut full-length album (also titled Dirty Honey) and have brought the grit and glamour of Los Angeles back into rock n’ roll.
The new album begins with “California Dreamin’,” the honest and feisty single that kicked off the band’s big return. With their first song back, the band wanted to highlight the over-glamorization of Hollywood and the realities of people trying to make it in the entertainment industry. Many find the charm and temptation of Los Angeles can quickly fade into feelings of desperation and self-doubt, and the song’s lyrics reflect just that.
Lyrically, the album also shines on “Tied Up” and “The Morning.” Both tracks take a sultry approach to rock music and dive deep into feelings of love, lust and rejection. Bassist Justin Smolian shines on “Tied Up,” and the addition of female backing vocals create a nostalgic feeling for the blues-based rock songs of the 90s (think “Remedy” by The Black Crowes).
When live shows return the band will undoubtably find success with “Gypsy,” the album’s top contender that sees lead vocalist Marc LaBelle step up as a frontman. Instead of his usual Axl Rose inspired screeches, he takes a melodic approach on the song’s chorus, making it an instant get-stuck-in-your-head hit. The song’s wide-ranging personality would fit best on either an outdoor festival stage or in a grimy club downtown where your feet stick to the floor.
When ending an album, bands tend to have two options; large scale epics that leave your jaw on the floor or a heartbreaking ballad that creates an emotional resonance. Most bands choose the first option because it’s easy and who doesn’t want to end the album with a guitar solo? Not Dirty Honey, apparently. “Another Last Time” finishes the record on a somber note with heart-wrenching lyrics and thoughtful instrumentation. While it’s nice to know even rockstars get their hearts broken, the decision to end the album with a ballad showcases the band’s new found growth and confidence.
Overall the record is a big step forward for Dirty Honey and proves their chart-topping success in 2019 wasn’t just luck. Although rock n’ roll still relies heavily on the success of live shows, the sweet sounds of this new album will have fans swarming to see Dirty Honey back on the road later this year.