Notoriously ferocious live acts face many pitfalls when it comes time for a debut album. Attempting to recreate that energy through a pair of headphones or a laptop speaker can lead to overdoing the chaos. Others attempt to dabble in more nuanced territory, and often it’s immediately clear that this isn’t familiar ground. Brooklyn’s Hunters admirably face that challenge with their self-titled debut, bouncing between dense post-punk and harmonic grunge to keep the energy fresh, without losing track of their identity.
But, knowing that the punk energy is what they’re going to have to live up to, they open with the explosive “Narcissist”, earthquake bass, acid rain guitar, and brilliantly traded vocals ripping the foundations up. Derek Watson’s leveled grit lays the baseline, but then Isabel Almeida striates the mix, volatile yelps punctuating the chorus and wordless coos bridging the gap.
Then, to prove their versatility, “Street Trash” opens on chiming third bridge guitar business indebted to Sonic Youth. More call-and-response vocals follow, Almeida’s delivery too rabid to be tamed by the Kim Gordon comparison. If it weren’t for the scuzzy grime coating the vocals and the minor turn the guitars frequently dip into, “Thin Twin” could stand in line with some of the surfy garage pop of the mid-’00s. “You wanna know the sound?/ You wanna feel the sound?” Watson repeats, daring you to engage with their just-off offerings.
“Undone” might be the most Sonic Youth-like song on the album, rotating between verses where Watson smirkingly streams his consciousness out over chops of distorted guitar and a driving, bouncy beat, and a chorus where Almeida softly sings of floating and turning the lights out as the guitars peel into layered bliss.
Though you’ll never feel the blistering energy of Hunters’ live show without Almeida actually kicking and pogoing around the stage or Watson glaring out over his mic, Hunters carries its own weight. A debut LP that would propel listeners to their live shows would be a service enough for Hunters, but one that stands on its own two feet like this bodes even better.
Essential Tracks: “Narcissist”, “Undone”