by Juliette Paige
Two years after releasing their debut LP, Warm On A Cold Night, British electro-pop duo HONNE (Andy Clutterbuck and James Hatcher) return with a second LP that explores the balance between the ups and downs of love – and I mean that quite literally. Love Me / Love Me Not is an LP consisting of twelve songs; the names of the first six tracks end with a ◑ sign, and the tracks are all about the exhilaration and beautiful spontaneity of love. The names of the last six tracks end with a ◐ sign, and the tracks are about heartbreak and pain.
If that sounds formulaic to you, I can assure you it most definitely is. The duo explained that the concept of the album stemmed from the Japanese philosophy of two halves – how one side can’t exist without the other. On vinyl, one side is named Love Me and the other side is Love Me Not, on ode to vinyl lovers who can choose what side to listen to depending on their mood.
Unfortunately, despite the hype of their single releases (where they would release two at a time, one from each side of their record), the album fell short of my expectations from their debut album. When I listened to the LP for the first time, I found that the tracks were indistinct from each other. The 47 minutes passed by without me noticing a definite change in mood or sound, even at the album’s halfway point.
While there were a few songs that managed to get stuck in my head for their catchy tunes and witty lyrics, namely ‘Me & You’ and ‘Location Unknown,’ this album took me by surprise with its weak and borderline misogynistic lyrics that oversexualize Asian culture. My concern began when I saw their album art for the first time, which depicts a hand holding a mirror and a reflection of a Japanese woman.
The first track begins with Andy Clutterbuck confessing that he wishes he could fake his own death to live in Tokyo and inviting a girl to be with him. Alright, that could be a simple love song, but the track that makes me cringe the most is ‘306,’ where the lyrics go, “Now I know there is an age gap / But I’m pretty sure that we can see past that […] you could guzzle down that juice and never wake up / But I know deep down you wanna make me happy / It’s all you ever wanna do.”
There are lyrics like this sprinkled throughout the album, and some of their music videos revolve around Asian culture, which ultimately makes me question if there’s some sort of Asian fetish going on here. If you’re looking for clever lyrics and experimental production, this isn’t the album for you. But if you’re looking for an album that’s easy to listen to and poppy, definitely give Love Me / Love Me Not a try. But sorry HONNE, it’s a “love me not” for me.