Hunx and his Punx / Cats Eyes – Review

27 Apr

This month two excellent new albums have been released that, in their own unique way, update and revitalize the ‘girl group’ sound as pioneered by the likes of The Shangri-Las, The Ronettes and The Supremes. Firstly I look at ‘Too Young to be in Love’ by Hunx and his Punx and then the self titled debut from Cats Eyes

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Too Young To Be In Love by Hunx and His Punx

A few years ago The Pipettes successfully updated the girl group formula,  giving the style a 21st century feminist makeover. In a similar way Hunx and his Punx are breathing new life into the traditional girl group song structures, chord progressions, arrangements and lyrical themes. the big difference is that Hunx is a flamboyantly gay, larger than life rock star and this informs every song on the album.

Hunx flaunts his campness (this is the guy who held his penis as a microphone in Girls ‘Lust For Life’ video) with his exaggerated and somewhat whiney vocal delivery, the hilarious puns contained in the lyrics, and (live at least) his slightly extravagant showmanship. It all makes this debut album a hugely enjoyable rollercoaster, where we are guided through the typical trials and tribulations of young love by a unique and distinctive voice. Lyrically It’s all very old-fashioned but the material is given a fresh twist by Hunx’s unique personality.

It would all be for nothing if the songs weren’t great in the first place but they are. All ten tracks on here are pure ear candy, once you’ve heard them you will be humming away all day. ‘Keep Away From Johnny’ and the title track are the two stand outs for me but there really isn’t a weak song on here. At the same time there is nothing truly knock out, nothing that could make this a classic album. I feel it’s lacking some serious reflection as Hunx skims across the surface a bit too often without getting too deep. Until he does I can’t see him fully unlocking his potential.

‘Too Young To Be Into Love’ is an impressive album that builds on Hunx’s  slightly sillier ‘Gay Singles’ comp released last year. The group are one of the most individual bands to emerge over the last few months, there is no one else like them as far as I’m aware and whilst this album wont be everyone’s cup of tea, I have certainly had a great time listening to it.

7.5/10


Cats Eyes by Cats Eyes

Faris Baldwin is not somebody who can be easily pigeonholed. Educated at the renowned Rugby school, he left to pursue a life as a semi-gothic singer in a garage punk band. The Horrors exploded onto the scene, appearing on the cover of NME before they even released a single, but the hype had somewhat fizzled out by the time of their debut album – a shame as it was excellent (if somewhat rough around the edges). The hype  excelerated once again when early reviews of the band’s second album ‘Primary Colours’ declared it to be a classic in the making. For that album the band ditched the raucous garange-punk for a more considered sound built around synths and My Bloody Valentine levels of loudness. Cats Eyes are a different proposition once again, far more than merely a side project this is a substantial album in it’s own right.

The act’s sound is lovely and laid back, Faris sounds more like a crooner than a screamer and he is accompanied by opera singer Rachel Zeffira, who has an equally beautiful voice that adds to the boy/girl dynamic. Musically Cats Eyes stick to familiar pop melodies and lyrically they stick to familiar themes of love and heartbreak, but it doesn’t feel overly familiar – there is great depth in the arrangements, which are quite complex at times. There are also strange sounds hidden in the mix, some of which sound like they have come straight out of Joe Meeks big box of weird. ‘The Best Person I Know’ sounds a bit like The Carpenters with seriously spooky undertones and the choral harmonies on ‘I Knew It Was Over’ give the song a sophisticated and unusual bent.

The duo’s first public appearance was at the vatican (yes, I mean the vatican) which is probably the last place you would have expected Faris be performing, and yet after listening to the album that couldn’t feel like a more appropriate place for this heart wrenching music to be performed in. This is a quiet joy, an album that shows its hand gradually over repeated listens and yet manages to be immediately loveable. Overall It’s one of the best records released so far this year and I can’t wait to see what The Horrors have to offer in a few months time.

8.5/10

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