Three albums into their unique career, Husky unveil a thrilling reinvention of themselves with Punchbuzz. The Melbourne band's long-awaited return swaps their signature folk sound for streamlined indie rock that lopes ahead with widescreen atmosphere, dark lyrics, and newly muscled melodies. The product of both an influential year based in Berlin and a welcome return to Australia, Punchbuzz announces a bold stylistic turn while bolstering the robust song craft that won singer/guitarist Husky Gawenda the top prize in 2014's Vanda and Young Songwriting Competition. These 10 new songs came together fast and hit hard, and Gawenda and keyboardist/collaborator Gideon Preiss jumped right on them to preserve that urgency. That approach yielded a set of tight-knit, experiential songs that were shaped by their nocturnal origins.
You can hear the after-hours ripeness in the title track, while lead single "Late Night Store" includes the telling line "I'm looking for something risky." It's there too in the Springsteen meets War On Drugs horizon-chasing of album opener "Ghost," on which Gawenda ominously intones, "The vampires here among us, it's their thirst I fear the most." These are the most immediate, yet most evocative, songs he's ever written. There's still a loving folk edge to the low-lit, soul-searching ballad "Cut the Air," but Husky happily contrast that with the gripping propulsion of "Shark Fin" and the lush mood shifts of "Walking in Your Sleep." Cut with the returning rhythm section of bassist Jules Pascoe and drummer Arron Light, these new songs relish the common thread of a rubbery, full-band pulse.
Punchbuzz may be the work of the same band that became overnight sensations thanks to their 2011 debut Forever So and continued that hot streak with 2014's Ruckers Hill, but they're now tapping into something that hadn't previously come to the fore. Sharp, lean, and driving, the album more than lives up to the dynamic imperative of its title.