It’s rare to find a band comprised entirely of stunning vocalists, however Melbourne’s Husky are a shining example. Fronted by the proficient Husky Gawenda, the combination of the four members’ voices is haunting and demonstrates a unique sensitivity to composing and playing music.
This has been beautifully captured on their new studio release, Ruckers Hill, which comes as a much-awaited follow-up to their 2012 debut, Forever So. Between releasing these two albums Husky have kept busy, being awarded the APRA Professional Development Award for Popular Contemporary Artist, touring with The Shins, City & Colour and Neil Young, and spending months in a Sydney studio working on this new album. Thankfully their hard work has paid off and Husky have produced a second album that satisfies expectations.
Husky take their time to open Ruckers Hill, playing around with time signatures to transform the simple, vocal laden introduction to an upbeat folk creation. While switching between the fast and slow paces can feel inconsistent, it also works to capture Gawenda’s reflective look at the four years he spent living near the Melbourne landmark, with a mixture of both yearning and appreciation.
Husky maintain the fast pace in the following tracks, Saint Joan and Heartbeat. Both upbeat and with sing along choruses, Saint Joan gives a brief taste of a less acoustic style for the band, especially in the lead up to the chorus, while Heartbeat is a slightly darker psychedelic tune with the potential to be a crowd pleaser. Both demonstrate a more refined and mature sound for the folk musicians, however, as in For To Make A Lead Weight Float, Husky remain very true to their original sound.
I’m Not Coming Back is the album’s forward thinking single. Written under the stars in Husky’s backyard, I’m Not Coming Back describes a need to escape and the relief that doing so can bring. Towards the end, the track develops a distinctive momentum, which brings about a darker sense of rebellion.
The pace slows for the following few tracks, returning Husky to the sensitive origins of their first album, but begins to build again throughout Fats Domino. Gawenda has a knack for creating unique and complex melodies with unpredictable intonations that make him stand out as a songwriter. This justification of his APRA award is especially evident in this track.
While they have gotten a little more experimental with this album, Ruckers Hill feels more like a continuation of its predecessor, rather than a completely new collection of songs. However, this will be welcome news to fans of the band and is by no means a weighty criticism. Over the years Husky have developed and perfected their unique song writing approach and are justified in sticking to this effective formula.