You can always rely on The Hunna to deliver absolutely nothing of note. That was the case back when they were spamming Facebook ads to forcefully market themselves; it was even more so when they picked up an edgy new look for 2020’s I’d Rather Die Than Let You In without following through in the music even slightly. This time, kudos to them for putting in the legwork to make singles Trash and Fugazi a bit rowdier and brasher, even if they do still give off the impression that Yungblud’s school-play-calibre transgression is too high to reach.
After that though, that’s more or less where that idea ends, and we’re back in business with the no-frills, middle-of-the-road alt-rock that The Hunna always threaten to expand upon, but never do. “I bet you’ll never hear this on the radio,” Ryan Potter proclaims on Trash, despite most of the album being as marketable and nondescript as their usual indie fare. Even on that song in which garage-rock spit plays a bigger role, it’s not like rock bands of all stripes haven’t been clamouring to commercialise this exact sound for years now (and, in many cases, succeeding).
That’s always been where The Hunna are so quick to shoot themselves in the foot, often before they’ve even got going. They’ve never been even remotely interesting, even when they think they are, and it makes their albums seem all the more passé as a result. They definitely do believe they’re offering more as well; going back to Trash again, framing it as a volatile, radical outburst against the major label industry ends up significantly less so when they’re just parroting back the same talking points that other bands have been since time immemorial, only more broadly-sketched. There’s also Fugazi as an archetypal ‘let’s go wild’ song that puts most emphasis on the archetype, and You Can’t Sit With Us that anchors its statements of defiance and individuality in the titular Mean Girls quote, so you immediately know the sort of depth and insight you’re getting.
You know what else, though? These probably are the most interesting parts of this album, or at least the ones that provide the greatest talking points. Otherwise, The Hunna seem perfectly comfortable in an alt-rock space that’s deeply limited in what it can achieve. It’s quite obvious what they’re trying to achieve through that too, namely the big, no-nonsense arena-rock that’s seen a band like You Me At Six catapulted to such great heights, only without the catalogue of hits that they had which ultimately shore up their career to this day. It’s worth remembering that You Me At Six’s weakest and most insubstantial material has come from their recent arena-rock forays, which ultimately leaves the writing on the wall for The Hunna when that’s specifically what they’re looking to piggyback on.
To give them due credit though, it’s been a lot worse than it is on here. On average, they’re definitely catchier than normal, even going in a more uniformly good direction on Sick with the blustering strings and screamed backing vocals from Charlie Simpson to add some much-appreciated drama. Had this album been released a decade ago when indie-rock like this had more lift, there’s no doubt that The Hunna would’ve found the mainstream love they’re courting. Though at the same time, that does speak volumes with regards to The Hunna’s place in music today, namely how they’re more appropriate to be cached away in a nostalgia box or festival reserves slot than anywhere in which they can properly make waves. Choruses alone can’t do that anymore; there needs to be a spark elsewhere that can seal in that forward momentum. They’re clearly aware of that, which is why they’ll flirt with the idea of doing more, but there’s the unwillingness to commit to it that’s holding them back, and capping their albums out at purely middling.
That isn’t a new thing either, and as long as The Hunna keep proceeding down this blatantly faulty route, it’ll only continue. With the way they’re going, they simply aren’t equipped to what the modern rock climate wants, as they keep circling the drain with few distinguishing features. But that’s also built them a sizable fanbase, who most likely won’t object to being fed more of the same time after time. It’s likely why the most distinctive songs on here were pushed as the early singles, to skew a media narrative for some extra column inches, before diving back into more of the same.
From that perspective, it’s likely The Hunna’s game to play and win. Among a more discerning crowd, they’re evidently not worth paying attention to, but there’s enough leverage there to keep going, as long as they do all the right things and pinpoint their course of action to where it’ll be most effective on a macro level. As much as industry politics sit in their firing line on the very first song proper, it’s not like The Hunna aren’t benefitting off their own version of them. At no point does this album feel like a product of creative drive, as much as a facsimile of playing the little guy to curry some residual favour and seem like there’s more of a stake than there actually is. And for a band whose name allegedly comes from their own determination and work ethic, it becomes worth taking stock of how much we really need The Hunna around.
For fans of: You Me At Six, The Amazons, Yungblud
‘The Hunna’ by The Hunna is released on 28th October on Believe Music.
Words by Luke Nuttall