Based on the dynamic stop-and-start rhythms and group yelps on Shouts, Honheehonhee has probably earned its reputation as a must-see live act. But while the Montreal band’s debut suggests that the band members have put in the practice time and have vigour to spare, this short-attention-span rock flits around like a toddler on a sugar rush, seldom settling into a great song.
For instance, “Rumours in the New Morgue” superficially fulfills its promise as twisty, frenetic indie rock. The verse is all moving parts, with guitars intertwining and the bass departing into strategic slides. But the stand-alone riffs that punctuate each transition do nothing for the structure, the chorus echoes a boiler-plate pop-punk release, and the lyrics seem like a last-minute attempt to write an afterlife narrative around the Poe-punning title. It’s as if hours of thought were given to ornamentation and focused outbursts, but only minutes were devoted to the heart of the song.
When Honheehonhee downplays the flourishes and focuses on a few hooks, as on “A. Is For Animal”, it shows promise as an XTC-esque pop act, but Shouts is too scattered to make but the vaguest of impressions.
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