The Hunx and His Punx's new album “Too Young to Be in Love” gives 1960s pop a queer twist, but did the Hunx forget to pack before racing to the past?
You've seen the film. Marty McFly's in the car park, or parking lot if we're really being pedantic, and the DeLorean's ready to go. He's got his camera to film the occasion, when a gang of machine-gunners burst onto the scene and Marty is forced to flee, back to 1955. You may be wondering what this has to do with the release of the sixties inspired punk-pop “Too Young to Be in Love” album by California's Hunx's and His Punx, and you'd be right. But bear with me.
Firstly, “Too Young to Be in Love” is well worth a listen. It's ten short catchy numbers make it a great “en route to work” listen, and perfect for any retro night. I just can't help but wonder if the Hunx, aka Seth Bogart, also dived into the DeLorean, only to leave something of the modern behind.
Opening with the track, Lovers' Lane, the early sixties sound is immediately apparent. The all girl “ooh wah oohs” kick in, the steady drums and gangly guitar, and then the twist: the Hunx, free from the DeLorean and in the studio. His queer drawl immediately catches the ear. This is going to be different… and it is.
I'm hooked. I get it; overtly queer male sings a song designed for an 18 year old bubblegum chewing girl. It's as if the Hunx, having stepped from the DeLorean, stumbled into the perfect all-girl backing band, the Punx. Enamoured by his uniqueness, they rushed him to a studio and made music. They also had lots of fun. You can feel it.
“Too Young to be in Love”, “Bad Boy” and “Keep Away from Johnny” all wistfully sing of the ups and downs of love. The sugar coated lyrics and yearning whip up a nostalgia for simpler, easier times, if not entirely real. I almost want to hold, squeeze and run my hands through my lover's hair too. But soon enough, I begin to feel something is missing.
This is the love of a very passive teenage girl who waits and waits and asks her mother for advice. Yes, it's cute to hear the Hunx sing “My momma told me…” and “I wish I would've kissed him one last time”. I particularly liked, “Tear drops on my telephone”. Again, this is all good fun, if all you want to hear is a queer rendition of early sixties sounds. But I need a little more. This brings me back to the DeLorean and I ask myself; what did the Hunx leave behind?
I realise that what I'm looking for is some kind of moral or psychological twist to the lyrics, but it never comes. The closest to any kind of sexual innuendo is the lyric, “Close your eyes and come away with me” in Blow Me Away. Not that I need innuendo, but I keep hoping for something to lift the music to a new level, something to make me feel this is genuinely and not superficially different.
There's no wrath, murder, cynicism or role reversal that you'd find in a Nick Cave rocker or Tom Waits ballad. It feels as if the Hoax really did step back in time, and sang songs of the time. Though well produced, catchy and amusing, it lacks anything truly innovative. For me, this is where it falls down.
Had there been something of the modern added to this sixties inspired record, had the Hunx, in meeting the Punx told them about what was possible in 2011; had he shared the spirit of the last fifty years and mixed it into the lyrics and sound, then “Too Young to be in Love” would be an album of great appeal. As it stands, it's fun. Play it at a party. Maybe there are many of you like the Hunx who are happy to temporarily suspend the last fifty years and revel in its naivety. Personally, I'd rather jump back into the DeLorean, face the gun wielding maniacs and record a song about that.
(Released on Hardly Art on March 28th)