Husky - Forever So

There’s a fragile, haunting quality to many of the songs on this album.

Label: Sub Pop

Rating: 8

Melbourne quartet Husky are the first-ever Australian signing to Sup Pop Records, and being first at something means you must be pretty good. They’ve also supported current Oz pop flavour of the month Goyte and performed at SXSW 2012 already, so there’s a lot of buzz going into their first series of shows in the UK in May, which include a stop at the Great Escape. There is a dusky, yet slight rough and tumble quality to their brand of folk rock described by Rolling Stone as “Nick Drake-esque fairytale delivered with full indie-orchestration”. But isn’t everyone from Mumford & Sons to Dry The River doing this cross of folk and indie in the UK already? What is it about this band and their debut ‘Forever So’ that makes them stand out from the rest?

There is certainly a fragile, haunting quality to many of the songs on this album, so the comparison to the late Mr. ‘Pink Moon’ is warranted and doesn’t require a great leap of the imagination. ‘The Woods’ is probably being the best example of this Drake-ness: piano and guitar combine with a compelling, expansive vocal for a song that feels so complete. Great care has been given to the making of this album; at some points, you’re wondering how it’s possible this is a debut album, with all the edges polished while still maintaining a rusticness and ease without pretension. If you aren’t enamoured with Tom Williams and the Boat’s rough and ready folk, this album of love and love lost could be right up your alley.

While ‘Forever So’ is not at all in your face – and besides, if you’re buying albums of this genre, you know that’s not the point of these kind of bands – Husky sound so self-assured, and this confidence shines through. Self-confidence only gets to you so far: for folk bands to be successful, you also have to deliver in the songwriting department. ‘Hundred Dollar Suit’ sees Husky trying out something more upbeat and ‘Dark Sea’ tries using a harder backbeat, but it’s clear their element is slower, more measured numbers that showcase their timeless songwriting. ‘Animals & Freaks’ is a beautifully woven tale, told in hindsight by an old man whose life was changed forever by a woman who came into his world as quickly as she left it.

You will find one of the most gorgeous love songs of recent memory in ‘Hunter’, in which lead singer and band namesake Husky Gawenda sings, “I came here not for love but for the possibility / of setting free the love we knew for all of time / don’t you remember I said that I would not forget / your memory is safe with me / and you’re heavenly.” So don’t blame us if you see couples fumbling with arms and snogging at their gigs, we’ve warned you. The band’s parting blow is ‘Farewell (In 3 Parts)’, a trio of mini-songs that will leave you with water on your face. A wonderful start.