Husky – Punchbuzz

Photo: Courtesy of Right Angle PR

……Album Rating: 9.4 – Hypnagogic meditation & ghost affairs……

Husky is an Aussie duo comprised of Husky Gawenda (lead vocals, guitar) and Gideon Preiss (keys, vocals). They became an overnight sensation after debuting their 2011 album Forever So and gained further acclaim for their 2014 record, Rucker’s Hill. Punchbuzz is their third album and was released on June 2nd via Nevado Music. The record was produced by Matt Redlich (The Trouble with Templeton, Emma Louise) and mastered by Brian Lucey (The Shins, The Kills, Delta Spirit).

In their third album, Husky takes their nocturnal anxieties and paranormal affairs into a 10-track odyssey that sends you shivering waves of dreamy ecstasy through your skin. Placing us in the penumbral midpoint between dreaming and being awake, Punchbuzz brings together the living and the dead. Excavating the thoughts of existentialism, romance, freedom, and mortality that haunt our threshold consciousness, the duo pushes the borders of folk and rock into atmospheric waters to produce wistful ballads.

“In the dreamless hours of nothing, / I was drifting like a ghost” chants Husky Gawenda in the album opener “Ghost.” It’s a smooth folk piece anchored with soft-pop hooks and pointillist strings that send you a breezy slush of catharsis. Swooping us to the late hours of the night where one’s self-perception heightens to another pessimistic degree, “Ghost” dissects the despair and lifeless state we experience. We face that battle again in “Punchbuzz” and “Walking In Your Sleep” where Husky takes you into a hypnagogic state. “Somewhere in-between the dreaming and waking up / I’m fighting wars and all of it is mine” croons the two in “Walking In Your Sleep.”

Most of the production has a flowing texture that evokes a spacious ambiance despite the dense instrumentation. The track that mostly echoes the gurgling and drifting motion is, not surprisingly, “Shark Fin.” Peppered with psychedelic flecks, the track is a gush of catharsis where echoing vocals paint a sharp imagery. “Your shark fin cuts through the water” While it’s indulgent, it has a dark undertone that isolates you with the track’s ruminative space. We encounter the same water metaphor in “Late Night Store” where Husky takes a notch up and lyrically seclude us with only our minds. “My head says don’t be crazy / But I’m looking for something risky / I’m breaking waves like the shore.”

Piercing with sharp objects is a recurrent metaphor throughout the album. In “Cut The Air,” Husky describes a loved one who can “Cut the air / With the sharp razor smile.” It is the folksiest moment of the record, where the guitar-laden rhythm and smoky vocals slither the starry-eyed sentiments into your skin. “Someday I wanna dance / Someday I wanna fight” croons Husky, admitting how every relationship has its excruciating side.

Next to “Cut The Air” is the album’s golden moment: “Splinters In The Fire.” Taking off with tiptoeing guitar strikes and velvety hums, the two glide you with their silvery tune carefully before surprising you with bone-chilling vibratos via their oohing chorus. “You wanna go fast / I wanna go sloooww” is followed by ballooning percussions that trigger frissons to every goosebump in you body.

While the two were mostly known for their folk/indie rock infusion, in Punchbuzz they wear different twists and transgressive elements on their sleeves. “Crack In The Pavement” starts off by tangling you with its subtly eerie chords – it’s both haunting and seductive. Before you know it, you’re wallowing in the cosmic-like synths that drip gracefully towards the end. But the following track, “Flower Drum,” falls short in sustaining this aura. It is the most pop-leaning work in the album and breaks abruptly from the echoing/flowing pattern that makes it feel slighlty discordant from the others.

The exiting track, “Spaces Between Heartbeats,” atones for its preceding track’s weakness and allows the duo to wrap up their affair with the paranormal. The two finish their nocturnal odyssey by telling you “I came home from my ghost retreat.” Tapping into the thoughts of our threshold consciousness, Punchbuzz drifts you between lucid dream bliss and late night loneliness without letting you indulge fully into the extreme end of one state.

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