The self-titled debut from Austin group Honey Claws tries a lot of different things. From the catchy opening song “Shout Out”, you’d think they were a synth-based indie pop band, but that notion is quickly dispelled by the loping hip-hop of second track “E-Sticker”. It turns out that minimalist, electronic-backed hip-hop is Honey Claws’ wheelhouse, and the record works best when they stick with it. “Zookeeper” rides a pair of minor-key grooves under smooth-flowing verses from rapper Jon Von Letscher. Tracks like “Frozen Chinchilla” and “Bone Hollow” work for similar reasons, while “Numbers on the Wall” employs a thicker low end to effectively pull off a party feel.
It’s when the group tries to branch out that things stop working. The boring falsetto-sung “Giant Town” sounds like Thom Yorke without interesting music. “Villains” is a decent Beck sound-alike, but the song just kind of lies there. “Ambulance” pulls its groove from Daft Punk, but minus the insane catchiness, and “Rational Beating”‘s shouted vocals are unconvincing and annoying. Nevertheless, Honey Claws is a solid first album where the good material is very good.