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Hunx and His Punx - Too Young to Be in Love

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Artist: Hunx and His Punx

Album: Too Young to Be in Love

Label: Hardly Art

Review date: Mar. 31, 2011

You don’t need me to point out the obvious: The “big idea” behind Hunx and His Punx is a gay man doing girl-group hits. Not only does the sound get referenced, but actual songs are reinterpreted to appeal to a whole new lovesick demographic. “Lovers Lane,” for example, seems to pick up from Run Around Sue’s perspective right before she starts going out with all those other guys, while “Keep Away From Johnny” sees Sue undergoing a sex change. “My Boyfriend’s Coming Back” is another thinly veiled cover, but with much different ramifications for the parties involved. Subtlety is clearly not a strong suit here.

I’m not sure if it’s a result of being so immersed in shtick or in spite of it, but Too Young to Be in Love is definitely an attempt at proving out the concept. This makes sense: All the songs on the True Panther Sounds’ Gay Singles compilation were basically three-minute punch lines. The second time around, Seth Bogart risks solidifying Hunx’s status as caricature -- and too much vamping without the songs to back it up only proves the skeptics right.

There’s no doubt that this is the same Hunx, but a lot has changed. First off, the Punx now entirely consist of punkettes. Bay Area weirdos are always there for each other, thank god, and Shannon Shaw from Shannon and the Clams provides a welcome counterpoint to Bogart’s borderline throat singing. It’s her wailing on “Lovers Lane” that makes it a straight-up love song, not tongue in cheek. The Punx also provide literal back-up on “My Boyfriend’s Coming Back” and “Keep Away From Johnny” that lends some heft to those threats -- which is incredibly important, since heft (or the lack thereof) is the main thing that Bogart needs to overcome.

It’s a similar issue that Nobunny, nee Justin Champlin, faced, from the kinky stage presence to the bubblegum hooks. But whereas Champlin was able to reconcile his strange fashion choices with an increasingly more original sound, Bogart has to deal with a very limiting concept for Hunx and His Punx (not to mention very limited songwriting ability).

Those limitations, as exhibited on Too Young to Be in Love, aren’t fatal. If anything, they’ve established a functional starting point from which to move forward. The Gay songs were single-serving pieces of kitsch that paid off as long as you bought into them. This LP asks you to take the music seriously in the face of that same gay humor. That’s a tough con to pull. And yet, if the seemingly self-explanatory “Blow Me Away” reveals anything, it’s that Hunx and His Punx can be clever, original, even subtle. As subtle as a dick joke can be, anyways.

By Evan Hanlon

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