Hunx and His Punx made their full-length debut last year with Gay Singles, a brash, tongue-in-cheek rush of overtly homoerotic bubblegum-punk, equal parts syrupy 60’s girl group pop and crass come-ons in the vein of Hunx frontman Seth Bogart’s work with electropop outfit Gravy Train!!!!!. For a compilation comprised of five singles released by the band across a variety of labels over the course of two years, Gay Singles held together admirably as a cohesive work without ever intending to be one. But the band’s latest release, Too Young To Be In Love, is the first time Hunx and His Punx have tried their hand at recording a proper “album.”
Hunx has only marginally re-worked his formula from Gay Singles, with the addition of backing vocals from his new all-girl backing band (dubbed the Punkettes) providing the only significant addition to the group’s sound. But while Hunx’s sonic shtick remains more or less intact, Too Young mostly eschews the mischievous swagger and musical naivety that made Bogart and company’s early run of 7”s so charming. Hunx’s new album is more of an introspective affair–at least as far as the band is capable of introspection-with Bogart appropriating the subjects of vintage teenage melodrama without really adding anything Hunx and His Punx-ish to the mix beyond the occasional afterthought dash of requisite gayness.
It’s not that Hunx and His Punx have to rehash the overtly queer content that dominated their debut to be a worthwhile listen, but in retreating from the gleefully flamboyant fare that put them on the map (with a little help from Bogart’s appearance in Girls’ “Lust For Life” video), the band seems to have lost a great deal of their identity. Anybody who appreciated the subversive flourishes and wry humor that characterized the best cuts on Gay Singles is going to be disappointed by Bogart’s newfound devotion to feigned earnestness.
But it’s hard to take any of the supposed heartbreak that Bogart has stated served as inspiration for the songs on Too Young when titles like “My Boyfriend’s Coming Back” so pointedly remind you that these narratives are all clichés Bogart has recycled from ’60s pop songs. This album isn’t the sound of Hunx and His Punx maturing or outgrowing the juvenile impulses of their earlier work, because these new songs are as fundamentally adolescent as anything found on Gay Singles. They’re just a lot less fun.
While the slog through the mostly interchangeable mid-tempo, spoken-verse tracks on the first twenty two minutes of the album is a lot of saminess to deal with, a couple genuine pleasures await anyone patient enough to make it through to the album’s final moments. “Tonite Tonite” and “Can We Get Together?” stand out not only because they avoid the lethargic pace of the rest of Too Young’s tracks, but because they also recapture some of that clumsy sweetness that Hunx and His Punx, at their best, have always managed to pull off so comfortably.