Bay area musician Seth Bogart, aka Hunx, would like to let everyone know that Hairdresser Blues is definitely not a Hunx and his Punx album, thanks so much. Despite the solo release distinction, the album still highlights Bogart’s “At the Hop”-style prowess that defines Punx offerings. This effort, however, mixes in death and other dark stuff, adding flecks of depth into the typical milkshake pop batter.
Hairdresser highlights frustrations stemming from relationships with “Set Them Free” to the woes of professionally cutting hair in the title track. In the latter, Bogart opens dropping a few octaves before hoisting himself into a celebration of apathy and specially placed heat styling tools. More personal and cathartic than Punx releases, Bogart said he bundled the album based on a need to drain the songs from his head rather than a drive to perform outrageous anthems.
The record makes clear that this is a guy who’s lost some key figures in his life. In addition to his trademark girl-group-style breakup ballads, Bogart includes odes to his father and his late friend Jay Reatard. The closing track, “When You’re Gone,” a song about his dad, does not boast the most unique prose. Instead it comes from a very childlike, primal misunderstanding of death. It’s a juice-stained exploration of mortality continued from the track immediately before. “Say Goodbye Before You Leave” makes a tearful attempt to conjure back previous tourmate Reatard. It feels more like a yearbook signature than a belated eulogy, reminiscing and “stupid things” Reatard would do and late-night phone calls. Bogart calls the song a particularly emotional one—an interesting facade that might make it difficult to perform live in his traditionally garish, theatrical style.
Punx songs are a party, sometimes no more. Although Hairdresser is a groovy time in its own, more-Hunx-less-Punx way, the subject matter is far more heavy. The tone of the album feels a bit scattered, darting from breakups to shears to parental death—all in under half an hour. Bogart takes his listener on a jangled journey that doesn’t always make sense. But then again, a fun audio experience doesn’t always have to do that to strike the right toe-tapping chord.