Hunx and His Punx is the last band you’d expectto play it safe. Hunx, aka Seth Bogart, began his recording career with the queercore electro-pop outfit Gravy Train!!!!, known for such bawdy numbers as “Gutter Butter” and “Titties Bounce.” Several years ago he formed Hunx and His Punx, which pulls a gender-preference switcheroo on the girl-group idiom. At first, the band’s sashay-na-na garage pop traded in the same licentious themes as Gravy Train!!!! Take the 2009 single “Cruising,” in which Hunx sings, “We’ll take some photographs/In our underwear/I like my boys like steak/All juicy and rare.”
Unfortunately, the first Hunx and His Punx full-length, Too Young to Be in Love, gets into trouble by, well, playing things kind of straight. Overall, it’s a reverent exercise in the Wall of Sound production style: Hunx might be singing to his own gender, but his songs are right out of the Phil Spector catalog. The album’s highlight, “Lovers Lane,” is a textbook girl-group single, with spare “Be My Baby” drums, cooing harmonies from Hunx’s all-girl band The Punkettes, and bathetic lyrics like “When he left, I was doing fine/I wish I would’ve kissed him one last time/For what happened next, no one could ever have known/My boy was killed and now he’s gone.” At least the song is a great showcase for Shannon Shaw (of Shannon and The Clams), whose backing vocals offer a throatier update of Ronnie Spector.
Despite his background, Hunx doesn’t traffic in high camp here—never mind that he sports a John Waters ’stache, loves vintage trash, and surrounds himself with BBWs (look it up). It’s a bit of a disappointment that the song with the most titillating title, “Blow Me Away,” is actually about his father’s suicide. “Bad Boy” should show more and tell less about why Hunx’s beau is such a cad. “If You’re Not Here (I Don’t Know Where You Are),” about licking a fellow “like an ice cream cone,” has some sly innuendo, which makes it an outlier: The lyrics come from the aforementioned single “Cruising,” circa Hunx’s randier days. Fans of Hunx’s earlier, much bluer material may end up singing that Ronnie Spector tune: “Is this what I get for loving you?”