How could anyone with a passion for new music not be drawn to Fuck Buttons after first witnessing them play? They gatecrashed an electronic music scene, that could perhaps have been accused of taking itself too seriously, shaking it all up with their use of children’s toys and an in your face performance style.
But let’s not reduce either of the artists making up this formidable duo to the pairing that first saw them come to artistic prominence. With Fuck Buttons currently on hiatus, both Hung and Power have gone on to achieve a great deal away from their original project. Hung has produced different acts, arguably most notably Beth Orton’s (2016) ‘Kidsticks’ whilst also creating the soundtrack for the film ‘The Greasy Strangler’. Power has pursued his own well-received project ‘Blanck Mass’, releasing three albums under that name, and touring with Sigur Rós. When Fuck Buttons reconvene to work on a new album, which they reportedly plan to do when time permits, It will be fascinating to see what they come up with given the new input garnered from significant personal growth and individual experiences.
‘Realisationship’ is something of a surprise of an album. Whilst the music Power makes as Blanck Mass seems to be a logical step bearing in mind the work that preceded it in the form of Fuck Buttons, and is no less enjoyable for it, Hung’s new album is rather a different beast. Even when you think you have it pegged you’ll be proven wrong for attempting to second guess. ‘Say What You Want’ has a bold, juddering intro but it isn’t long before one early characteristic that can be applied across this album makes itself evident: Hung’s voice. Very clear in the mix, and in this instance its clarity heightened and complimented by some neat synth playing and female backing vocals. It’s an interesting intro which could just as easily be a finale.
The next track ‘Elbow’ with its jaunty synth motif perhaps signifies the ‘wonky’ pop Hung was intent on making. It feels quite sparse in structure and seems a million miles away from Fuck Buttons. Repeated listens to tracks such as this one reveal a catchiness that might not be immediately apparent when you first listen to this album. It’s more than worth any extra effort.
The next two tracks, ‘No I Won’t’ and ‘Private Commercial’ land in more drumbeat oriented territory, with Hung’s voice unapologetically punky and all the more appealing for it – you can really imagine this material working well in a live setting. The latter track in particular has a really pleasing percussive element.
‘Whisper’ sees proceedings drop down a bit in terms of abrasiveness and this is actually one of my favourite moments on the record. Hung has obviously made an artistic choice to leave himself bare and vulnerable, vocally speaking, and it was the right decision. There’s a 90s indie feel to much of what is going on across this LP so we shouldn’t be surprised when Hung tells us he’s been on a ‘bit of a nostalgia trip‘.
The reflective synth coated moments continue with ‘Shadow’ though there’s a feeling the album is starting to build back up again. Slight echoes of Massive Attack in the way the rhythmic punctuation of some of the instrumental lines hit home here. With ‘Sugar Pops’, as the title might imply, we have our breakout pop moment of the album, which Hung describes as its ‘anchor’. I can see my younger self, ‘drinking weak lager in a Camden boozer‘ to this one playing on the jukebox, along with three other skinny indie kids. Hazy. Yes indeed.
Serving an immediate contrast is ‘Animal’. Perhaps this is the rawest moment of ‘Realisationship’ in terms of the vocal performance pointing to something darker lurking in Hung’s psyche – starkly rewarding in its honesty. The string sounds add to the sinister feel as do the stabbing guitar parts. I think this song also points to the potential of where Hung can take his solo artist persona. Some really exciting solo records could be in store if this is anything to go by. The final song seals the deal. A tender sign off and perfectly pitched antidote to the previous track. Give this record a chance. If you ‘Open Your Eyes’ you’ll be firmly rewarded. Thanks for reading.