“Don’t Know Where” lacks prerelease hype, sub-subgenre classification or needless gimmicks (unless consistant lyrical allusions to driving cars qualifies — autocore, anyone?). Honeydew’s debut album is a simple collection of feedback-assisted indie pop reminiscent of U.S. group Yo La Tengo’s catchier rock songs — and thank goodness for that. The Tokyo trio’s straightforwardness feels like a much-needed oasis in a musical landscape that can sometimes demand Wikipedia-like levels of knowledge to keep up.
The biggest strike against “Don’t Know Where” is that it peaks way too early — opening one-two jabs “Little Rusty Lemon” and “Heavy Rainy Day” nail the fuzz-smeared indie-pop vibe, both tracks cruise along smoothly until smacking into their choruses. Later on, the title track comes closest to matching that initial rush, with alt-rock-radio-worthy guitar chugs powering the song forward. The band succeeds at a slower tempo on “My Honeydew,” and strip down to just an acoustic guitar and voice on the final proper track. “Wake Me Up” aims for dreamier pleasures and works, but gets souped-up courtesy of a remix tucked into the back of the album via New York musicians Chimp Beams.
Honeydew sometimes stumble when they let even the catchiest ideas go on a little too long — the album lasts just over 45 minutes, and when each song sounds slightly similar to one another that can feel like a lot longer. Although it lasts only a scant two minutes and nine seconds, the instrumental interlude “Turbo Nitro” probably should have been scrapped, as it comes off as nothing more than a “look how rad we sound” move. This is especially true when there are so many less-forced moments showing off Honeydew’s skills all over the album. “Don’t Know Where” isn’t complicated, but it’s that simple joy that makes it easy to embrace.
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