May 30, 2017

Returning from European sabbatical, Melbourne’s Husky have moved for a slight change in direction for their third album. With Punchbuzz, Husky step away from their folk roots towards a propulsive rock sound without breaking stride.

Defined by a pervasive sparsity, earnest narrative and haunted tone, Husky’s 2011 debut Forever So and 2014 follow-up Ruckers Hill drew easy analogy to the daydreaming indie folk of Fleet Foxes and The Shins. Here the group bring these elements forward, marrying them to a kinetic and rhythm-laden rock sound. It’s a welcome shake-up, undeniably their ever-stable songwriting benefits from its newfound rhythmic push.

Nowhere is the more evident than opener ‘Ghost’. In fact, it’s perhaps one of the strongest helpings this long-player has to offer. Leaning into the melodic uplift of ’80s pop, the up-tempo track sits easily alongside the likes of The War On Drugs’ ‘Red Eye’. The pleading track serves as a sweeping and anthemic introduction to their new trajectory. ‘Shark Fin’ and sauntering title track ‘Punchbuzz’ continue in this sweetly melodic vein, Gawenda’s honeyed delivery accompanying some surprisingly straight shooting indie rock.

Yet to focus too much on stylistic shifts would ignore that Husky’s song craft has also made some respectable strides. ‘Late Night Store’ trades sombre introspection and idyllic folk settings for something bleaker. Leaking with neurotic yet compelling energy, the verse depicts the surrealistic blur of visiting dive bars while fixating over an inability to shake feelings of monotony and déjà vu. “Dancing in the car park with the headlights on/Trying to take off/But the gravity’s too strong,” Gawenda sings. The visceral haze of urban surrounds challenges the gentle beauty inherent in their music, creating a sort of conceptual tension and release. It’s here the group emerge from the greyer blur and ambiguity of dreamy thematics towards a sense of directness.

Husky may claim reinvention, but fans of previous works will find warm familiarity with the delicate suspension of ‘Cut The Air’ and the sulphurous ‘Cracks In The Pavement.’ Both touch upon the floating harmonies, soft builds and acoustic intimacy of albums past. ‘Spaces Between’ moodily riffs ahead while the jittery ‘Flower Drum’ playfully pushes forward its ear-catching oddball sound with snappy charm. ‘Heartbeats’ finishes things off with an unexpected grandiosity, bringing their multi-layered production confidently to the fore. Stratospheric synth washes precede a sweeping collage of indie orchestration.

More than previous material, Punchbuzz coheres into something remarkably vital. Balancing harder rock leanings with rich narrative elements, Husky turn out something accessible without extinguishing the spark of resonant songcraft. With newfound focus and sharper edge, Punchbuzz represents a welcome step ahead.

‘Punchbuzz’ is out this Friday, June 2nd. Husky’s national ‘Punchbuzz’ tour kicks off June 17th.