Hunx returns with His Punx after his excellent 2012 solo album Hairdresser Blues. Where that album showed him moving in a softer and more sentimental direction, Street Punk completely reverses course in the best way possible.
Hunx and His Punx consists of Seth Bogart and a rotating cast of musicians (usually women). Their 2010 debut and 2011 follow up, Gay Singles and Too Young to Be in Love respectively, trafficked in a mix of scuzzy garage punk and bubblegum pop, with songs that sounded like Buddy Holly being backed by the Gories or the Oblivians, and sung from a gay man’s perspective. Song-wise Too Young To Be In Love was a huge leap forward in Bogart’s songwriting ability and really began to showcase his melodic sensibilities. Bogart’s voice is a nasally squeak that can capture vulnerability and a badass attitude within the same song. His 2012 solo album as Hunx, Hairdresser Blues, took on a lighter, more reflective mood, branching out with acoustic instrumentation, lucid surf-style guitar tones and a more mature approach, although still working within the ‘50s Rock-meets-Queercore aesthetic he broke out with on Too Young To Be In Love.
Now in 2013, Hunx has returned with His Punks for their new album Street Punk, which completely reverses the evolution he showcased with Hairdresser Blues in the best way possible. It takes the scuzzy garage sounds that Too Young to Be in Love hinted at and multiplies it by a thousand. The album is fast, lo-fi, and in your face. At 12 songs that go by in under a half hour, the album is a serious kick in the ass without losing any of the wonderful garage pop melodies Hunx is great at. The first track, “Bad Skin”, opens with a few raunchy guitar notes that wouldn’t sound out of place on Black Flag’s Damaged album before barreling forward in to a relentless guitar solo. The song perfectly sets the tone of what to expect from the rest of this album. Both “Everyone’s A Pussy (Fuck You Dude)” and “Don’t Call Me Fabulous” are thrashers that barely even reach the 30-second mark. “Kill Elaine” even finishes off with a million-screeching-notes-a-second Greg Ginn-style guitar solo.
I’d compare Bogart’s lyrical ideas to Morrissey’s gift for thoughtful and dramatic interpretations on modern living. Bogart’s words are at once funny, outrageous, heartfelt, and above all else original. “You Think You’re Tuff” is a triumphant power pop lover’s lament that shows off Bogart’s songwriting talent and soulful vocals. It is the best song on the album and one of the few gems sprinkled throughout this album to offset the sillier songs and really allow Street Punk to hit home. The media made a big deal about Frank Ocean’s song “Thinking Bout You” off of 2012’s triumphant Channel Orange because of the sexual ambiguity within the lyrics of that song. Bogart as Hunx flaunts his sexual orientation in a fun and often funny way (see album title Gay Singles) but above that, he is such an excellent songwriter that any fan of punk, garage rock, or power pop music should be able to relate to his songs. He sings about love with other men, but the sentiments are universal.
Most of the songs on this album consist of Bogart endlessly repeating the titles as on “Rat Bag” and “Egg Raid on Mojo” but the songs are in-your-face and catchy and at less than two minutes, they don’t overstay their welcome. In fact every song on Street Punk is less than two minutes except for “You Think You’re Tough” and the fifties-rock homage of “It’s Not Easy”, the last and longest song on the album, complete with a T. Rex-style glam guitar solo. Hunx and His Punk may demand that you don’t call them fabulous on Street Punk but even when the band is trying to be as abrasive as possible, Bogart’s undeniable songwriting talent can’t help but shine through the muck. Street Punk is another fabulous addition to an already great discography, packed to the gills with great songs.