Not bad at all on its own deliberately theoretical terms. If "The Wedding" had not preceded it, "HNY" would have stood out more prominently on its own. Without a single song as catchy as the cascading Krautrock-lilt of the previous album's "Eiger," however, there is more consistency on HNY if a bit less experimentation, unevenness, and at times a bit of fun. The band here settles into its folk-electronic, rather studiously whimsical, attitude. The result is finely crafted but sounds a bit too worked over, rather fussy. I tend to like this sort of music if it's not too over-arranged. Here, it's intricate.
This reminds me of a meal cooked by a daring, unpredictable trio of cooks who each contribute some ingredient you cannot tell when eating their fare what exactly it is, but you can make out the various ingredients that persist in the blend. Now, is such a meal satisfying? It's more like eating a work of art than a hearty plate of fare, perhaps. So it is with HNY: it's more like an art gallery installation than an album you'll put it, crank up, and let play on while you do whatever you like to do while it's spinning.
HNY, being from NYC fittingly, continues that city's alternative, intellectual, and calculatedly self-referential 20c modernist (with or without prefixes or modifiers) tradition (is that a contradiction?) of such cultural trends in music as well as the other arts and the realm of belles-lettres. You can admire such productions, as with that wittily assembled meal, but like those courses, the result may likely be too rich to enjoy on a regular, daily basis.
Once in a while, as with Oneida's earlier albums in this direction, I will play HNY and be content. They're smart guys making intriguing sounds. AMG called them liberal arts majors taking on metal, in their late-90s genesis. But this CD's too premeditated an effort to simply enjoy in the illusion of music that's more off the cuff (if in sonic or conceptual disguise and not as actually produced and marketed in reality) and easier to crank up and let loose without inhibition or lack of restraint. We may like to read The New Yorker, but sometimes we want to take a break and pick up Blender. Oneida suits more the former than the latter audience, but there are those few of us who read both! The band tickles the tension of arthouse vs. populist as they have for a decade, but this is music for critics, not the masses.