Hunter Valentine are an all-girl rock trio who, on this album especially, sing a lot of songs where ‘she’ is the immanent subject matter. Singing songs about girls is natural given that Hunter Valentine are a lesbian band, but as much as their sexuality is a part of their identity, to me it is just a sub-point because the music is what matters and the songs are delivered with a realness that makes it all easy to relate to. Nothing ever gets close to being sappy, as songs about relationships snarl with a pained angst which is about sticking the middle-finger to the addressee rather than wallowing in any kind of emo self-pity.
Produced by name Canadian producer and musician Ian Blurton, Lessons From The Late Night is the follow-up to 2007’s Impatient Romantic. The album only has seven tracks which is of course shorter than average but this can be forgiven as a positive as it appears that some quality control has been exercised and there are no filler tracks here. It’s a strong and seamless production, and there are some nice progressions throughout such as the slowdown moment on “Revenge” in which a swelling guitar and a few tinkles of a xylophone add a moment of eerie calm before the final onslaught and subsequent scream-down.
Bikini Kill, they are not, and on the other end of the spectrum they aren’t t.A.T.u. either, but instead Hunter Valentine end up somewhere left-of-the-middle of those two extremes of legit punk rock and total commercial pop. A fair comparison would be Pink, with the band having a similar radio-friendly alt rock sound while HV vocalist Kiyomi McCloskey sings straight from her heart and guts with the same kind of attitude. The best example of this, and my pick of the album, is “Treadmills Of Love”. “Treadmills Of Love” has a staccato rhythm to its verse delivery which is very effective; it’s a simple but cool technique which succeeds in delivering the anger and hurt behind the lyrics, with the words stabbing out between tiny pauses of breathe as if singer McClosky is hyperventilating. The gutsiness of this song really hits home.
Most of the songs on Lessons From The Late Night have are fairly fast-paced but things slow down with the last couple of tracks, with the final song “A Youthful Existence” being a bit of a sway-n-nod-along kind of anthem and a possible lighters-in-the-air moment for fans.
While it’s not the kind of thing I’m going to be listening to by choice, I can still appreciate LFTLN for its merits and the gutsy vibe and good production result in what is a solid album. This is honest rock and it ain’t bad at all.
© Brian Banks, Music Vice