Take one part Ramones, two parts 1960’s teenybopper heartbreak pop Ã la Shangri-las, and a dash of homoeroticism, and what do you get? Besides the inevitable threat of kitschiness, this combination yields an unfortunately brief collection of tracks laced with precious nostalgic charm: Hunx and His Punx‘s first proper LP, Too Young to Be in Love. Following the release of last year’s Gay Singles, an assemblage of assorted 7″s, this album continues frontman Seth Bogart’s successful foray into garage revival, leaving behind almost all of the pervasive sexuality that dominated Gravy Train!!!!’s work.
Too Young to Be in Love‘s songs generally follow the same formula: cooing female background vocals, uptempo, simple chord progressions, Bogart’s atonal voice, and lyrics whose content could be plagiarized from a high school girl’s diary. On the titular track, Bogart sheepishly pleads, “Please don’t break my heart/I want to go back to the start,” expressing heartache with such playground simplicity. It’s both engaging and universally applicable. Album high point “If You’re Not Here” capitalizes on the impact of female vocals and the 60’s girl group vibe, their voices echoing and challenging Bogart’s on the chorus. It’s not all shallow surface content, though, as closer “Blow Me Away” delicately addresses suicide without losing the sonic coherence of the album.
Although Bogart’s nasally voice may polarize audiences, it fits in seamlessly to the sound scape of handclap percussion and endearing lo-fi production. In this straightforward approach lies the complete lack of pretense that prevents Hunx from being a haphazard replication of a classic genre. For example, when Shannon Shaw wistfully repeats over and over again, “That’s the curse of being young” on the track that shares that name, unable to disguise her anguish, one can’t help but empathize. Too Young to Be in Love may be a lot of things, but kitschy is not one of them, as Hunx and His Punx yet again provide a fresh take on the first generations of rock and roll, executed with tact and sparkle.