Stina Marie Claire – A Souvenir of a Terrible Year

A Souvenir of a Terrible Year is an intimate and emotionally raw portrait of pandemic life from Honeyblood's frontwoman

Album Review by Joe Goggins | 28 Sep 2021
  • Stina Marie Claire - A Souvenir of a Terrible Year
Album title: A Souvenir of a Terrible Year
Artist: Stina Marie Claire
Release date: 1 Oct

The title of this first solo EP from Honeyblood’s Stina Tweeddale is plucked from its closing track, a cover of The Sundays’ Here’s Where the Story Ends, but the deeper meaning after the events of the past 18 months shouldn’t be difficult to discern. With a fourth Honeyblood album forced onto the back burner, Tweeddale has instead turned her attention to carving out a solo channel distinct from the band – which, in and of itself, begs the question of what that distinction actually is, given that Honeyblood has essentially been a solo vehicle since the 2018 departure of drummer Cat Myers.

A Souvenir of a Terrible Year offers up a couple of potential answers to that question. One of them is tied up in that closing cover; where the original is all breezy pop, Tweeddale’s take is much rawer, full of exposed-nerve emotion that suggests she might have linked the lyrics to her future prospects in music last year, when the pandemic looked like being ruinous for independent artists. Atmospherically, it’s a world away from the polish of the last Honeyblood LP, In Plain Sight.

Elsewhere, the newer compositions also serve to draw a dividing line between the band and the solo project. Honeyblood, at their heart, have always been a rock band, regardless of which prism that’s been refracted through – the grungy scuzz of their debut, the noisy drama of Babes Never Die, or the stylistic ambition of In Plain Sight. Here, though, Tweeddale pivots, on the one hand, towards punchy pop on lead single The Human Condition, and on the other, towards quietly stormy reflection, on the sparse Just ‘Cause You’re Lonely and Souvenir. 

It’s a dichotomy that brings to mind Kathleen Hanna’s Julie Ruin record – expertly crafted, emotionally engaged bedroom pop. You get the sense that Tweeddale had big plans for Honeyblood in 2020 that were derailed by the pandemic; a settled four-piece live line-up was in place, and new music was being drip-fed. If there’s a silver lining to be taken, it’s that A Souvenir of a Terrible Year appears to have cracked open an entirely new part of herself creatively.

Listen to: The Human Condition, Souvenir