The prolific instrumentalist opens his mouth and...Lex Records, 2017
Purchase: Bandcamp / Amazon
3.0 / 10
I was looking forward to Andrew Hung‘s first “real” solo record, Realisationship. Hung is half of Fuck Buttons, a noisy electronic group that makes larger-than-life and scarier-than-nightmares soundscapes. He produced Beth Orton‘s compelling reinvention, Kidsticks. And let’s not forget he scored The Greasy Strangler, a hilarious, disturbing film that would not have been nearly as hilarious or disturbing without Hung’s wonderful instrumentals.
But there’s a common theme between all of these releases. They’re all instrumental. That’s not too surprising because, after all, the other half of Fuck Buttons (i.e., Blanck Mass / Benjamin John Power) releases instrumental solo records all the time. And that’s where Realisationship is different. Hung sings on it. And that’s too bad.
As someone who likes Bob Dylan, The National, Bjork, Kate Bush, Tom Waits, Neil Young, and Joanna Newsom, I’ve got no objections to idiosyncratic voices. Vocals aren’t a deal-breaker for me. Or at least, I didn’t think that they were, but Realisationship puts that sentiment to the test. Hung ain’t a singer. Surely he must know this. He’s got a great ear for production and sound. Surely he knows what he sounds like, right? He has all the confidence of a ’90s Britpop crooner, but none of the ability.
Realisationship is like if Damon Albarn went deaf but decided to make a Gorillaz album anyways without any guest vocals. It has the same pop sensibilities of Gorillaz, and it even has the same oscillation between serious-and-goofy lyrics between songs. But even when Albarn is screwing around, it never comes close to the nadir of “Sugar Pops”, one of the worst songs of the year. It’s a novelty song about… sugar pops cereal and how much Andrew Hung likes them. The bridge even features Hung shouting in a sing-song cadence: “uno maas, yes please!” It was moments like this that made me reconsider this whole writing-about-music thing altogether. I’m listening to this seven or eight times when I could be listening to something that I like.
Not to be a complete jerk about it, but Hung’s voice ruins Realisationship. It’s littered with some excellent beats and production. The final two tracks, specifically, are beautiful and haunting, until Hung lays his vocal tracks down. Even if you come into this record for just the music, Hung’s vocals are centered up front and loud in the mix, making them inescapable.