Minneapolis combo the Honeydogs issued a pair of well-received indie albums in the mid-1990s but hit the industry wall after their ’97 major-label debut, Seen A Ghost, died amidst the demise of Mercury imprint Debris Records. Then an unexpected new lease on life arrived: Triple-A radio picked up on that album’s “I Miss You”, and Palm Pictures picked up the tapes for the follow-up disc.
With guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Adam Levy leading the charge, the Honeydogs deliver a compelling and familiar blend that should appeal to fans of Wilco, the Posies and Squeeze. Deploying sneaky vocal harmonies like depth charges and surrounding themselves with an array of subtle sonic touches (in particular, the Mellotron), the group’s forte is immaculately groomed pop-rock that doesn’t come across as overly fussed with.
Casting a spontaneous vibe isn’t always easy, but it suffuses tracks such as the rootsy, hooky “Sour Grapes”, the John Lennon/World Party-ish “Pins In Dolls”, and the swamp-pop “Red Dye #40″ (a direct descendant of Nick Lowe’s “Cracking Up” with a quirky sitar riff and a nod to Tony Joe White). When the group aims for craft, it also hits the mark; “Wilson Blvd.” commences on a gentle, “Mr. Bojangles”-like note, then gradually unfolds, via a lush string arrangement, into Abbey Road territory. One is tempted to call the album title prophetic, but it’s clear the Honeydogs have the talent to outlast the ephemeral wanderings of Lady Luck.