“Huntly make the personal both political and powerful, asserting themselves not only as dynamic producers, but people with vital things to say.” – STACK
“A masterful blend of cavernous electronica and intimate pop” – Apple Music
“Huntly’s unofficial tagline “doof you can cry to” is apt but deceptively reductionist. On their debut LP, the Melbourne trio find space to expand and refine their emotional and aural palettes.”– The Music, 4 STARS
“Basted in polished, abstract production, it is at times akin to international heavy-hitters Frank Ocean and FKA Twigs (or HABITS or The Harpoons, closer to home).” – The Big Issue
“Wiggle, a delightfully upbeat and club-friendly number could easily be among last year’s best.” – Pilerats
“Their upcoming debut album, exists in continuum with the many artists who’ve spent the past decade putting an artful spin on mainstream pop, but it’s also operating on a twee wavelength that wouldn’t be totally out of place on K Records.” – Stereogum
Over the last six months, Melbourne trio Huntly have announced themselves with a string of extraordinary singles; each song a unique slice of intricate and intimate electronica which pushes the boundaries of contemporary pop and dance. Now finally, after years of honing their craft, Huntly have arrived with their entire debut album – beautifully constructed and deeply personal, Low Grade Buzz – out today via Barely Dressed/Remote Control Records.
Doubling down on their “doof you can cry to” manifesto – their combination of profound song-writing and forward-thinking dance music production places them in the canon of cutting-edge pop artists.
Low Grade Buzz is an artistic statement coalescing the personas that make Huntly a unique three-piece band. Lead singer and lyricist Elspeth explains: “The feelings driving these songs range from the unsettling and existential, to the hopeful and emancipatory, to guilt, rage and pain. They tell stories of queerness and identity, of relationships shifting or dissolving, of trying to do good in the world, of navigating emotions, power and responsibility.”
Where other writers would reach for empty platitudes, Elspeth digs deep with alarming clarity in their critical self-reflection. ‘Giving Circle’ opens with the disclaimer, “I’ll admit that I wanted to hate you”, and leaves nothing unspoken, accompanied underneath by the community choir Elspeth directs. On tracks like ‘Vitamin’, Elspeth sings as if giving us a window into the band and their process of art-making: “I’m always tryna find new ways to approach it, a project of self and others”, or album-opener, ‘SMU’: “even if our histories are incompatible, even if knowing our survival feels unfathomable”. Elspeth’s capacity to capture and communicate life’s bittersweet ache truly shines in the album’s understated title track, ‘Low Grade Buzz’.
Percussionist and producer Andy oversees most of the production on the album, across all eleven tracks, every beat feels perfectly timed. The lurching and uneasy swing of the beat on ‘AUR’ acts as the perfect bedrock for Elspeth’s achingly honest narrative and snares fly chaotically around a powerful sub in the garage-inspired coda on ‘Wait (37 degrees)’. Andy displays a capacity to connect music and narrative across the entire album, but especially on lead single ‘Drop Gear’. The cathartic sub drops act as a speed-racer halting suddenly and “dropping down a gear” to avoid a crash.
Singer/Producer Charlie could be the band’s secret weapon on Low Grade Buzz, deftly switching between roles as singer, songwriter and producer. Their rough and slightly unhinged vocal delivery works as the perfect foil to Elspeth’s vocal mastery. On tracks like ‘Wiggle’ or the swampy interplanetary grooves of ‘Vitamin’, Charlie sits as Elspeth’s devil’s advocate, the track in question becomes a dialogue; an expression of differing perspectives and styles. Commencing with nothing but piano and heavily-affected voice, Charlie’s presence in ‘Wait (37 Degrees)’ is like an incantation from some future cyborg religion.
The album traverses a spectacular range of musical territory, while still managing to form a cohesive whole. From the forward-thinking emancipatory banger ‘Wiggle’, to carefully constructed pop of ‘Reckoning’, to the fierce intensity of ‘Wait (37 Degrees)’, this is an album that pays homage to the conventions of pop and R&B, while also proving unbound by them. Like the title track, ‘Low Grade Buzz’establishes something evocative, intense and unique, the work proves to celebrate the trio’s extraordinary individual strengths, while showcasing their collective craft – in a whole that is still more than the sum of their parts.
Thursday 9 May
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne Tickets here
“Low Grade Buzz is that feeling you get on a Sunday night if you’ve spent all weekend with people, connecting or trying to connect, watching, laughing, moving and breathing in public. And then the weekend is over and you’re alone in your privacy, thinking about who you are and what time is, and whether you are doing it right. It’s the feeling when your eyes close down, when you think about how you’ve hurt people, or how they’ve hurt you. Or how you are going to be a better person for the week ahead. It’s grief and sadness, but it’s also celebration and remembering what it means to be alive. Sometimes Sundays are the loneliest stretch and you don’t get out of bed and you think you’ll be there staring at the wall forever. Other times, you change your sheets and feed yourself, prepare for the week ahead and tell yourself you’re going to be ok. Low Grade Buzz is trying to capture that feeling.”