Andrew Hung : Deliverance

Andrew Hung Deliverance review

No one likes a copycat, but it takes a thoughtful musician to twist, turn and invert older styles of music into fresh inventions. Even when making openly revivalist music, it behooves any artist to make intentional decisions to separate those creations from what influenced it. Borrowing from tried-and-true traditions is all fine and good—humans have been doing that for literal eons—but putting that personal stamp on your creation is what sets it apart.

During the early spins of Deliverance, the new album by former Fuck Buttons member Andrew Hung, I was briefly concerned that he’d forgotten that important lesson. For his third solo project on Lex Records, he’s crafted eight mostly excellent slices of ‘80s synth-pop. His love for Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears and Bauhaus were apparent, but the music is typically dour in a similar fashion to those very bands, including the morose male vocals. That is, until I stopped looking for obvious connections to Hung’s prior work in Fuck Buttons and started listening to the songs for what they are.

Immediately, I began to notice some curious production choices. Call it maximalism built with sparse components or big sounds without an overwhelming flood of production layers. It all starts with the drumming in which Hung fuses syncopated drum patterns and krautrock rhythms with a kinetic flair, but he turns them around by lacing them with a gated filter and placing them right in front of the mix. The effect comes on a bit strong before it becomes apparent that it’s his way of opening up these songs for club play and potential remixes.

As the album progresses, other interesting elements come into sharp focus. The shimmering guitar parts ring out with just enough echo and delay to avoid cliche. Hung assigns the various keyboard phrases to carry the melody lines, while substantial washes of synth pads provide the necessary dour mood. Hung leaps out of the gate with opener “Ocean Mouth,” a glowering track with intense drums, brooding atmospherics, and building intensity. Later on, “Too Much” blends new wave pop with the theatrical post-punk of Bauhaus to create a danceable tune perfect for any worthwhile goth night. On “Never Be the Same,” Hung pairs proto-industrial aesthetics with post-punk to magnificent effect.

While an over-reliance on the left hand of the keyboard for the bass lines is a direct ‘80s callback, it feels like a missed opportunity for the actual bass guitar work to be made more prominent throughout the songs. Moreover, the presence of a ballad or a slower song in general would have benefitted the overall album flow, as the slow jams that are here aren’t particularly slow or jammy.

Andrew Hung has created a pleasant listening experience throughout Deliverance, right down to his vocal tics. The source material is familiar, but it’s also in-your-feelings music in the best possible way. The album provides an abundance of high drama with its blend of superior musical ideas and elite execution. Hung is firmly in command as he sings from the heart, and the music complements his big emotions with aplomb.

Label: Lex

Year: 2023

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