Hunx and His Punx - Too Young to Be in Love - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hunx and His Punx - Too Young to Be in Love

by Al Brown Rating:9 Release Date:2011-04-04

Hunx and His Punx first full-length, Gay Singles, was completely indebted to The Ramones, and got away with it by being really great and totally open about who exactly it was ripping off - lead single 'You Don't Like Rock'n'Roll' even namechecked the band and their Leave Home album. For this record Hunx has a new all-girl backing group and a new set of influences - now he's into the songs that influenced The Ramones themselves: 50s teen love laments, the early work of Phil Spector and 60s girl groups.

The start of this album is so very perfect - there's that double stop drumbeat that the Shangri-Las made shorthand for heartache and the Punx (or Punkettes) provide some of the most angelic "Oohs" since 1962. Then Hunx sidles up to the mic and says: "D'you ever get the feeling/ That you want to hold me?/ Well, do it now/ 'cos I want everyone to see". Because 'Lovers Lane' is an update on the classic teen-tragedy song (think 'Tell Laura I Love Her', 'Teen Angel'), but where those songs were chaste, Hunx is overflowing with lust and righteous sadness. Arguably it's Shannon Shaw's tough-girl backing vocals that really make this song - going from sultry pleas to an irresistible, cathartic howl as the desolation builds.

'He's Coming Back' is the best Martha Reeves and the Vandellas pastiche around. The interplay between Hunx's clipped, nasal vocals and those of his band, who just nail that classic girl-group sound, is indescribably great. 'Keep Away from Johnny', with its scratchy guitars and street-gang vocals, is a cross between Buddy Holly and The Rezillos.

All this seems like foreplay when the title track starts: "Why won't you do it with me?" Asks Hunx; "I wanna do it with you" - and who are you to resist? This song is a culmination of the whole 'Make the Perfect Girl Group Song' project that started four tracks ago. All the tricks come out together: the perfect clean riffs; the Hammond organ; those girl-gang harmonies and spoken word interludes. It's so good that it really does transcend its obvious influences - something that should sound tacky and forced becomes beautiful through its own conviction and indisputable emotional pull.

It's hard to say exactly why Hunx and His Punx succeed in this exercise in nostalgia, but it has alot to do with the rawness of the sound and the lack of fashionable production techniques. While other revivalists, from Shakin' Stevens to Vivian Girls, combined those golden oldies sounds with production which was identifiably contemporary, Hunx keeps it authentic - the only things that mark it as recent are the occasionally raunchy lyric, slightly fuzzy rhythm guitar and the fact that no-one would have let a (flamboyant, gay) man front a girl group in the 60s.

The second half of the album is just another five tracks of irresistible bubblegum pop: 'Tonite Tonite' is yearning, elemental punk rock; 'Blow Me Away' is a slow-dance tribute to Hunx's dead father that rounds off the album nicely. The highest compliment you can pay this record is that, at its best, it's actually as good as all those lovelorn classics from 50 years ago. 'Too Young to Be in Love' is as instantly evocative and thrilling as only pure, straight-up rock'n'roll can be: a total joy from start to finish.

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