15 May 2018

Eczema by Hans Pucket

From The Sampler, 7:30 pm on 15 May 2018

Nick Bollinger discusses guitar hooks and notions of romantic quarantine in the songs of Wellington trio Hans Pucket.

Hans Pucket

Hans Pucket Photo: supplied

If you prefer your guitar pop with a wry and personal spin on the human condition, you could do worse than listen to Hans Pucket.

In ‘Comfort’, the kick-off track on this Wellington trio’s latest independent album, singer Oliver Devlin reflects out loud on his “easeful reasonable comfortableness”, and wonders whether it might all be comforting him out of existence. It’s a straight-ahead two-chord jangle, faintly reminiscent of the Bats, and leaves you wondering if the comforting familiarity of the music is part of what’s causing the singer’s malaise.

Eczema

Eczema Photo: supplied

But that kind of conundrum is typical of the cunning match of melody and lyric you’ll find throughout these tracks.

The bright power pop blast of ‘Mentor’ almost hides the anxiety and self-deprecation that lurks within the lyric, but that all comes bubbling back to the surface in the title track. With it’s spiralling chord sequence and wordless harmonies, ‘Eczema’ brings us close to Elliott Smith territory, while the central image conjures the kind of romantic quarantine the singer seems to find himself in, song after song.

Like most of these songs, ‘Eczema’ doesn’t stay in one place for long, its unpredictable journey ultimately leading to a disco jam while on the closing track, ‘What?’ they go all Brian Wilson on the harmonies, and throw in a couple of drunken trombones for good measure.

Eczema is a relatively short album; eight songs, just over half an hour in length. But every one of these funny, touching meditations on modern romance earns its place, and surprises in its own way.

Eczema is available on Bandcamp