‘Early Trauma’, the new EP from Sydney’s Johnny Hunter is quite simply brilliant. It is a sweeping, cinematic and statuesque release filled with five close to perfect pop songs that have theatricality and pomp and an elegance, leavened by a satisfying post-punk gothic darkness. Bowie-esque vocals swerve into a Joy Division sombreness and Bryan Ferry elegance, with an instrumentation that shimmers over a strongly synth-centred pounding, driving rhythms.
These are five tracks that capture an eighties sparkle and follow a strong genetic code – think of bands like Joy Division, The Sisters of Mercy/The Mission and Killing Joke transposed to the modern era with the band’s own distinctive imprimatur. Dealing with dark themes of the transience of time, the band says of the EP:
As young adults our talent was unparalleled in wasting opportunities with blissful ignorance. From those decisions stemmed Early Trauma. Each song on this EP is in some way an ode to wasted youth. The energy and time spent on unimportant moments, and the realisation that without those moments we would not be who we are today. It’s our way of reverse engineering the painful memories we carry from our past decisions, so we can grow, develop and with time ultimately heal those scars.
We have already reviewed the epic opening track and single ‘Hollow Man’ – full of drama, a little cabaret and a thumping rhythm under striking guitars.
‘Pain and Joy’ thunders at a vicious pace with metallic rumbles and staccato beats: it’s heavy, blistering and yet antithetically is viscous and melodic. Vocalist Nick Hutt’s voice is impassioned, cathartic, celestial.
‘Try As You May’ with its dark ominous vocals cannot help recall Ian Curtis, but with the backing vocals and the driving pace takes on its own persona. It’s undeniably the purest pure pop with teeth. Utterly epic songwriting.
The enthralling magnificence of Johnny Hunter is again to the fore in ‘Innocence’ which is:
An ode to Winona Ryder in the 1988 movie, Heathers. The film is about a high school couple who murder their classmates; an absolute hyperbolic example of wasted youth. We wrote the song as though we were writing for the closing credits of the movie. A true ballad for Early Trauma.
The EP ends with ‘Beautiful Dreamer’, a song that beautifully encapsulates the broad palette from which this band paints: an almost dreamy romantic ballad with jangling guitars and a wistful, melancholic air – as he holds a portrait to the sky as he’s told all beauty must die – the lyrics are evocative, emotive and elegant.
This is truly a magnificent release – particularly if you enjoy indie rock with a touch of glamour, louche, elegant, full of style and a gothic eye-liner tinge beneath the sparkle.
You can download or stream the EP here. Meanwhile, the band has announced a series of shows in mainland Australia:
Saturday, October 31st Barbara Brisbane Tickets
with Perve Endings, Fragile Animals
Friday, November 6th The Lansdowne Sydney Tickets
with Baby Beef, Enclave
Friday, November 13th Crown & Anchor Adelaide Tickets
with Don’t Bring Stacey, Seabass
Saturday, November 14th The Grace Darling Melbourne Tickets
with Destrends, Badgers
Saturday, November 21st Lalalas Wollongong Tickets
with Droves, Enclave
Fingers crossed these can go ahead in the current climate.