Melbourne-native band Husky have gone through a period of reinvention. This seems to be a common feature among groups trying to stay relevant by keeping up with the current trends – Take ‘Linkin Park’, a band that drastically altered their hard-hitting alt/rap-rock anthems to a more radio-friendly auto-tuned sound. Husky’s ‘Punchbuzz’ is just that; a reinvention of the band’s traditional sound that, in the process, grapples with their identity.
Following their 2015 album ‘Ruckers Hill’, singer/guitarist Husky Gawenda, along with keyboardist/collaborator Gideon Preiss, spent a productive year in Berlin. During this time, Gawenda crafted an over-arching narrative from the gloomy yet enchanting nights he experienced. This journey is supported by Gawenda’s soft vocals that create a picturesque late-night drive down a scenic route. It offers a moment of clarity that enriches the mind; where thoughts roam freely throughout the witching hour. This is prominent in the opening track ‘Ghost’, a love letter to the sleepless nights driven by curiosity and wonder – “In the dreamless hours of nothing, I was drifting like a ghost. And the vampires here among us. It’s the thirst I fear the most.” The lyrics fuel a desire to dive deeper into what Gawenda experienced on his journey. From ‘Late Night Store’ to ‘Walking In Your Sleep’, Husky reinvent themselves in the nights that helped shape their creativity.
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However, what stands out is the work of producer/mixer Matt Redlich (known for Holy Holy and Ball Park Music) who drives Husky’s overall sound into a different direction. This benefits tracks like ‘Ghosts’ or ‘Shark Fin’, that coordinates with Husky reinventing their sound, but hearkens back to whether folk-ballads like ‘Cut The Air’ have a place on the album. It is not to say that ‘Cut The Air’ does a disservice to ‘Punchbuzz’. The overall work from Redlich adds more pop to their melodies, and lyrical production. He positively influences Husky, adding a hypnotic layer reminiscent of The War On Drugs’s 2014 album ‘Lost in the Dream’.
That said, comparing ‘Punchbuzz’ to ‘Lost In The Dream’ does not favor Husky. There is a lack of “punch” that ‘Lost In The Dream’ had with each track; touching on similar subjects of sleep depravity and escapism found on ‘Punchbuzz’. Gawenda’s lyrics are full of life, and so it was in ‘Ruckers Hill’ and 2012’s ‘Forever So’, but more soul searching is needed for the production of the album. The experience was nullified because of the consistent melodies that tread over each track, leaving the listener wanting more.
This is not to say Husky are moving in a poor direction. What they’ve put together with ‘Punchbuzz’ is strong, capturing a moment in time that the band explore endlessly in their lyrics. The various instrumentals used are to be applauded for, expanding their indie-folk sound. For that, and on top of the solid lyrical production, the album is certainly worth a listen.
‘Punchbuzz’ is out now via Embassy of Music. The full track-listing for the album is as follows…
Late Night Store
Cut the Air
Splinters in the Fire
Walking in Your Sleep
Cracks in the Pavement
Spaces Between Heartbeats