Dusted Reviews

Neon Hunk - Smarmymob

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Neon Hunk

Album: Smarmymob

Label: Load

Review date: Jun. 19, 2003

Hunk Smash

Approaching the stage, Neon Hunk appear nice enough – a cute Milwaukee couple with Ramones' haircuts. They appear more RAWK than HUNK, but they quickly demonstrate the opposite. From somewhere deep and dark, this couple emerges as Mothmaster and Mossmaster. Armed with caveman drums and tighty whiteys, googley masks and a sixth-grade synthesizer, they proceed to funk up the audience in ADD neon jitter.

Smarmymob, their debut album, feels like one big stuttered song. This dynamic duo shrieks and thumps through 17 tracks in twenty minutes, alternating swinging Quasimodo funk and the sounds of a giddy toddler playing with a synth. "Goob Tooblies" and "Chowsus" fit catchy melodies between primitive drums and broken keyboards. "Port Ugly" briefly resembles a lo-fi Suicide riff, but the cute three-note breakdown that follows is akin to giving Alan Vega a wet willy. On "Hampstermastor," the drums and synth work a hip-shaking rhythm until charging into a clumsily plodding break. "Hampermaster," on the other hand, alternates a low synth hum with tumbling drums and some rapid-fire Casio blurts. Is it even necessary to mention the impeccable song-naming ability of Neon Hunk? Can you possibly resist "Nibblemaker" or a sharp case of the "Nugglies?"

Like label cohorts Lightning Bolt and Pink and Brown, Neon Hunk smash together the hopelessly cute and the awkwardly harsh. Their brilliant record sleeve displays a particular reverence for their feline inspiration Meowsus, including a two-page spread in which his furry likeness infinitely repeats toward a distant celestial source: Meowsus, King of Zool, Benevolent Mastor of All. While the sounds vary greatly, this combination is also reminiscent of Deerhoof's hard-riffing songs about panda bears. Amongst this cute noise crew, however, Neon Hunk resembles Pink and Brown's explosive brevity more than the longer-lasting stays of Lightning Bolt or Deerhoof. With such short songs and a relatively limited sonic range (so far), Neon Hunk seem like an awesome gimmick, but one that can't last very long. At least, they'll have to reach into their bag of tricks and pull out something new in order to keep the funk this fresh.

Each of these groups taps into a primal and physical element that forces audiences to move their butts. The Hunksters bump and grind a party with masked abandon, not quite the dangerous craziness of their Load Records peers, but more of a wobbling silliness. While this visceral punch truly arrives during their live show, Smarmymob is an excellent document of such moments.

By Jeff Seelbach

Read More

View all articles by Jeff Seelbach

Find out more about Load

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.