As the story goes, Bradley Ferguson’s early songwriting sessions for his new Hunting project’s self-titled debut were done solo in Europe, and with the sounds of buzzing synths and glitchy programmed beats. A change of heart and a trip back home, however, had him moving from his electronic-minded solo work into a more organic group dynamic, and toward the symphonic indie-folk of the collective’s first release.
The rootsy opener “Aleen Obscene” takes a melancholy tone, with Ferguson’s hushed lines weighing in on the death of its titular character—apparently a lost love. A twist soon takes place, though, when he begins to sound oddly relieved about the matter (“Now she’s gone, I’m glad I’ll never see her again”) atop a swell of cinematic strings, laid-back acoustic strums, and the occasional ghostly shimmer of feedback.
To be sure, sadness is the set’s strong suit. Each quivering whisper delivered on breakup number “Goodbye” arrives like a punch in the gut. Despite its blend of plucky banjo, endearingly cheery glockenspiel, and soul-stirring pedal steel, the frontman’s hook of “Everything will be okay” on the track of the same name seems more like the guy’s just trying to put on a brave face. “It’s a Wonderful Life” likewise takes a turn for the ironic when, over the country tune’s slowly shuffled rhythms and lo-fi Casiotone lines, Ferguson ashamedly admits to being poisoned inside, and no better than “the dog that ate your birthday cake”.
If you’re set on a smooth and easy listen, Hunting’s overall glumness may overpower its elegant soundscapes. If, however, you’re in the mood for a devastating look at love and loss, the debut is right on target.