Photo: Charlie Cummings
The Japanese word, "honne," describes the contrast between one's true feelings and their desires. Comprised of James Hatcher and Andy Clutterbuck, The British duo HONNE have fulfilled one of our deepest desires with the release of their long-awaited sophomore album. Love Me / Love Me Not, the British duo's dazzling sophomore effort, is a sprawling 12 tracks of electronic-infused bliss. Much like the title may suggest, the album explores a central theme of yin and yang, exploring a space that is neither here nor there but seemingly everywhere. As Honne shared on Love Me / Love Me Not,
"Those two sides have been rooted in us from the beginning, but now is the first time we've truly demonstrated it. One doesn't exist without the other, and so this time these songs have to be there together. A lot of films and TV shows either explore the good or bad, but we wanted to show a balance and the grey space."
Having sat with the British duo's sophomore effort for a bit of time now, we can say with due confidence that what they have managed to do here is nothing short of remarkable. Bursting forth with life, passion, and a profound sonic beauty, Love Me / Love Me Not is brimming with beautiful moments to pore over. So, here are some of our favorites.
"I Might ◑"
Serving as the opening track of the album and the reintroduction to HONNE after two years, it seems only fitting that one of the best moments of "I Might ◑" occurs within the very first seconds. Opening on a far-off piano, the click of a cassette, and a tinge of fuzz, the subtlest of touches set the tone perfectly for what is next to follow throughout the entirety of Love Me / Love Me Not.
"Me & You ◑"
One of the album's most notable moments arrives early. Two tracks in, and we're already face-to-face with a dream collaboration as fellow British artist and producer Tom Misch lends his virtuoso guitar playing for a track that exudes a dance-inducing vibe. Opening on a transmission of the moon landing, "Me & You ◑" is a timeless grove that looks backward to create something ever forward-moving.
"Day 1 ◑"
The lead single from Love Me / Love Me Not, "Day 1 ◑" sees HONNE venturing into the realm of love songs to create a tender, thoughtfully-penned ode to an unnamed lifelong lover. Largely thanks to Clutterbuck's emotive vocals, the sentiment comes through with an aching sense of fondness that is as sweet as it danceable.
"I Got You ◑"
The interplay between Nana Rogues, who produced Drake's "Passionfruit," and HONNE on "I Got You ◑" is something to behold. But more than anything, "I Got You ◑" is a song that sounds like a wish realized. As Rogues sings of wishing to get away, the chirping of birds come into frame until the sound of nature is all that remains. It's a touching moment on an album full of instances that strike at one's heart.
"Feels So Good ◑"
Irrefutably true to its name, "Feels So Good ◑" is a bright, pulsating track that is brought to breezy new heights by Norwegian electro-pop artist Anna Of The North. While we are still busy debating if the vocal samples that open up the track and belong to the electro-pop artist herself, they lend the track a profound sense of intimacy. The laughter that shortly follows the opening is another amazing touch to it all.
"306 ◑" serves as the middle point of Love Me / Love Me Not and in fitting fashion, the track is a charming reflection of teenage dreams. Likely referencing a Peugeot 306 through a series of modulated vocals, HONNE speaks on youth with such a sense of insightful optimism that "306 ◑" could very well be championed as an anthem. Anthem for the youth or not, we will say that the vocal modulation that is evocative of early '90s hip-hop was an excellent choice.
"Location Unknown ◐"
From the fine details to the overall end creation, Love Me / Love Me Not is filled with exquisite production. However, there is something about "Location Unknown ◐" that production-wise feels particularly special. As Clutterbuck and British electro-pop Georgia's airy vocals give off the sentiment of actively being in participation with one another, the sonic landscape their voices find themselves in is spellbinding.
"Crying Over You ◐"
The last track featuring a vocalist not belonging to HONNE, "Crying Over You ◐" also serves as the first solo release for the Nottingham-born singer and songwriter BEKA. The powerful repetition of the chorus "I wish I knew why, I've been crying for you" that nears the end of the track is a clear contender for the best moment on "Crying Over You ◐," but we would be lying if we didn't give due credit to BEKA's gentle cooing that lingers through the song's end.
Okay, so this is one is ever-so-slightly more difficult to describe, but "Shrink ◐" sees HONNE at their most unrestrained. Speaking on an eventual descent into madness, the production matches the subject matter perfectly. Experimental, playful, and a bit distressing, including an elevator-evocative break nearing the song's finish that plays out like a therapy session, HONNE would make a pretty great art-pop band.
"I Just Wanna Go Back ◐"
"I love you." That is all. Take a listen, and you'll understand.
Evoking much-deserved comparisons to Bon Iver and James Blake, we bear witness to HONNE utilizing autotuned vocals to open "Sometimes ◐" to beautiful effect. Yet, this is a duo who is all their own. Flipping the melancholic autotuned lyricism on its head, the remainder of the track resounds with a triumphant resolve that embraces one's own faults. With that being said, we certainly would not be mad if HONNE were to employ those autotuned vocals again.
"Forget Me Not ◐"
In the culminating track of Love Me / Love Me Not, HONNE finally face their biggest fear. As an album centralized around notions relating to love and the past, the central theme of "Forget Me Not ◐" comes off as the worst possible outcome to all that has come beforehand. That is, to be forgotten. The outro closes out with the lines "She loves me / She loves me not." A seemingly somber ending, but it is the antithesis of Love Me / Love Me Not as a whole. It is a question left to linger in the air - neither black or white, existing in the grey.
Revisit our 2016 interview with HONNE here.