I think Seth Bogart has been getting laid. In a 2011 interview with Nardwuar, Hunx And His Punx guitarist Michelle Santamaria (who left the band soon after) said of Bogart, “He’s killed horniness in me…I don’t believe in being horny anymore.” Bogart, it seemed, was horny enough for everyone. He is (or was) the Piccasso of insatiable desire; our generation’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” funnelled into human form and coddled in a mesh muscle tee. Sex drive is Bogart’s (or his alter-persona Hunx’s) unicorn blood—the gooey thing from which he draws his music’s life source. He writes barely euphemistic lyrics like “I like my boyfriend’s steak all juicy and red.” He claims to have eaten an entire donut out of someone’s butt while on tour. He offers up his crotch like a foreign delicacy to fawning audiences.
But the horniness is dead in Street Punk. And this is why I postulate that Seth Bogart has been getting laid. These is the sort of tangible, measurable reason I want to credit with the shift in Hunx And His Punx’s sound, if only to convince myself there is a reason. From the afterbirth of 2010’s Gay Singles, which was bursting at the seams with glammy queercore make-out sessions, musical disagreements with boyfriends, and late-night cruisin’ for tail, came 2011’s Too Young To Be In Love, which traded in the punx and promiscuity for pop and partnerships.
Now we have Street Punk, less than 30 minutes of raw, hasty, goof-garage, with not so much as a coy wink. From the first seconds of “Bad Skin,” the album’s opening track, it’s obvious this isn’t the Hunx And His Punx you used to know. It opens with the fuzziest, Chewbacca-like guitar riffs before Bogart starts snarling and huffing over the raw noise, complaining about his need for Clearasil. Where are the doo-wop love ballads? Where are the sashaying harmonies? Even the track names are devoid of their usual sensitivity: in 2010, we got “Teardrops On My Telephone,” and now we get “Everyone’s A Pussy (Fuck You Dude).” Bogart’s voice no longer encapsulates the hopeful whining of a man in desperate need of a sticky spooning. He doesn’t plead, he doesn’t pout, he just raises his middle finger to the wind and pukes out slightly adorable rage.
The album’s high points are strong though: “Born Blonde” is gruffly sweet, with tap-dancing drums and Bogart acting like a toddler trying to flex his muscles. The album’s title track is proof that this new Hunx sound has potential: Rather than dropping his glitter-whine in favor of his scuzz drawl, Bogart blends old and new, speak-singing, flicking curses apathetically out of his mouth and crooning like a lovesick teen.
Shannon Shaw (of Shannon And The Clams) monopolizes the spotlight with “You Think You’re Tuff” and “Mud In Your Eyes.” “You Think You’re Tuff” builds into a noisy twist of thwacking drums and screeching guitars, held together by Shaw’s engine-oil croon, while “Mud In Your Eyes” is a darker, after-prom slow dance, in which Shaw claims she’ll still like you even if you look gross. “I’m Coming Back,” and “Rat Bag” both fall into the same trap: leaning on ego, they stick out their tongues to the listener, and fall over. “Look what we can do!” they brag, “It’s loud and fast and hard to listen to, but we’re not doing this for you!” They’re rapid, repetitive, and bland when compared with the rest of the album, especially Shaw’s powdery pop gems.
At times (and with multiple songs clocking in around 30 seconds) Street Punk can seem more like a drunk band practice than an actual album. But let’s not take any of this too seriously. Remember, this is the guy who, in that same interview with Nardwuar, admitted to getting locked up in Disneyland Jail for “necking” on the Peter Pan ride, and said that if Hunx were an STD, they’d be AIDS. Hunx And His Punx’s joke store humor isn’t gone, but this time they’re slathering the puns in mud, while we sit on a couch, watching that drunk band practice and cracking our third beer.