“Drip, drip like honey,” electronic duo The Brinks uncover with their provocative new single. “She was all naked, passenger seat,” later rolls off their tongue, lapped underneath a sugar-coating of brash sexuality–a striking departure from 2015’s Temporary Love EP. To this point, Matt Friedman and Scott Mellis have colored surreptitiously inside the lines, daring to go only as far as their primary instincts would allow. But the title track, dressed down in soft throbs and a delicate melody, has since collected over 29 million streams on Spotify: from playlisting to word-of-mouth. And now that they’ve staked their claim, they are challenged with proving they are capable of going next-level. That’s where “Honey,” which signals a bolder and more alluring manifestation, comes in. Between the swirl of faded synths and a darker production approach, the track, the lead-in to their forthcoming new EP, strengthens their proclivity for atmosphere and moodiness. “It wasn’t like ‘oh, we’re gonna write something happy and save the world.’ Matt had the beat from a hip-hop session. I was just trying to be really confident and write something that would be fun. I was kind of an alter-ego in this song. It wasn’t a super personal song,” Mellis tells B-Sides & Badlands about the song, which they’ve claimed “started as a reaction to all the dark stuff going on in the world.”
Mellis, whose sultry and caramel vocal drenches the narrative with sick phrasing, explains what he means by “alter-ego,” saying, “It’s writing from a dream or as if it’s a person we invented. I do feel a bit different from being that. That’s like an R. Kelly move. I kind of love it because it’s really bold. And I’m a huge fan of him. We just wanted to push it. It’s kind of cool to have something out there that’s ‘oh yeah…that’s different.'” From his sticky falsetto to the trickle of percussion, the song feels massive, already netting 400,000 streams since its release earlier this month. “It’s not hitting a reset button or anything–all of our music has a through line–but I think we went with the song that’s the furthest away from ‘Temporary Love’ to start off,” says Friedman.
“We’re showing that the new material is in a different space. It’s living in more of a synth-y place, not much ‘Honey’ but the other stuff. Rather than have a bridge to gap to it, we said ‘screw it’ and started with this,” he adds. “‘Temporary Love’ had a really long, slow build. It’s one of those organic songs that people are finding on Spotify. It’s still kind of going.”
So, now seemed like as perfect time as any to capitalize on that viral success. “We’re going to start rolling out songs, I think, once every month-ish or six weeks,” Mellis teases. An EP is expected sometime later this year.
Where “Temporary Love” sets the precedent, “Honey” rips the roof off and starts a fire. “We wanted to just do things that are different. I think every time people hear us, I want people to be like ‘what is this?’ or have that kind of surprise reaction to it,” admits Mellis. “Sonically, we definitely wanted to push it and lyrically, too. I didn’t want to be known as the guy that wrote the one song that was about mourning over love. I’m happy we’ve got this new song; it shows another side.”
The duo continue blurring the lines on the EP and “reaching into a lot of different things,” Friedman says. “We’re both inspired by so much, and we don’t really feel the need to hone in our sound to one thing. That’s what keeps it fun and interesting. It all still feels cohesive, though. The EP is pretty much done. There’s a little bit of mixing and mastering to go. All the songwriting and producing is all done. We’re looking to start touring again toward the end of summer, hopefully.”
While they did not necessarily hit any significant roadblocks, the process was slow going at times. “I wouldn’t say we hit roadblocks, but we have probably 20 songs that are like halfway done or closer there. We keep shifting between them and whatever song jumps out first wins. Maybe that’s a way we avoid roadblocks, mentally, just keep writing around it,” says Mellis. Friedman chimes in, “I’m definitely really proud, and I don’t know what people will like or dislike about the EP. But we pushed ourselves to make sure every song was really solid in songwriting and production and chord progressions.”
A “abstract and weird” visual is currently in the works for “Honey,” no date has yet been determined. “We are going through treatments right now, trying to figure out what to do with it,” Friedman notes. “I don’t think we like literal visuals, as much. Hopefully, it’ll be a little fun and surreal.”
When reflecting on their favorite music video(s) of all time, Friedman and Mellis offer up two vastly different answers. “My two favorite videos of all time are MIA’s ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘Turn Down for What’ [by DJ Snake and Lil Jon]. Two best videos to come out in forever,” says Friedman. Mellis agrees, before giving his response. “I would have to agree. I’m going to say my favorite music video is ‘Original Sin’ by INXS. It’s leather jackets, motor bikes, riding around in Japan at night in the ‘80s.”
Spin “Honey” below: