Hazel is the first full-length record to come from Los Angeles’ quintet, Young Hunting. It’s the product of over two years of recording in numerous bizarre locations such as garages, a desert house outside of Joshua Tree and a former ranger’s station. This clearly means that the band’s intent was to push themselves creatively, ultimately leading to the emotion-drenched, low-key songs offered on Hazel.
And what’s it like?
Recent years have seen a plethora of bands express a fondness for keeping music understated, demonstrating that a fine line exists between poignant beauty and uneventful tedium. However, Hazel actually possesses both of these attributes. Opening with the shimmering guitars and sleepy drums of ‘Into Yr Mind’ proves that the record is capable of being stunning, yet it’s a stark contrast to the anti-climatic ‘Rust’, with a soundscape that keeps increasing in tension, only to end in mediocrity.
In a record characterised by tragic sadness, the heart-breaking ‘Annabel’ is the centrepiece. Sparse instrumentation (although the haunting trumpets and sombre acoustics are still deeply compelling) allows emotionally fragile vocalist Hari Rex to be positioned at the songs forefront. He tenderly croons about Annabel’s affair – “I cried out ‘Anna my love’, but the river swallowed every word” – with isolated imagery seeing him become a figure of pity for the listener.
Following on from ‘Annabel’, their laid back dream-pop is disposed of in favour of intimate folk songs like ‘White Light Years’, the only track that has an uplifting atmosphere due to its joyful harmonies. However, closer ‘Ride On’ has shades of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds with its sinister whispers and morose orchestration, again proving their strength lies in embracing unrelenting darkness.
What’s the tracklisting?
1. Into Yr Mind
2. Sweet Bird
4. Wrecking Ball
7. White Light Years
8. Baby’s First Steps
9. Ride On
Can you listen to anything now?
What’s the final verdict?
The sizeable amount of time spent recording Hazel has allowed the majority of songs to be perfectly crafted to expose every sorrowful emotion possible. Now, the task Young Hunting has is to identify their stronger attributes and elaborate on them on the follow-up. Then they are sure to settle into the world of emotional indie rock.
Words by Connor Cass