Hunting is barely recognizable as the same band that released a debut album five years ago: it’s gone from a solo project to a trio, from folk to catchy electro-rock, and from wistful melancholy to buoyant exuberance. All this can be heard on the group’s sophomore album, Whatever You Need, out now on Nevado Music.
Songwriter-producer Bradley Ferguson initially intended the album as a quick follow-up to 2014’s rootsy Hunting LP, but the initial sessions stalled. Instead, Bradley put Hunting on the back burner: he produced an electro-pop LP for Vancouver vocalist Jessicka, and acted as a bassist-for-hire in an array of projects.
Hunting eventually got back on track with the addition of two new members: Jessicka came on board as a full-time backing vocalist, while songwriter Dustin Bentall joined as a co-frontman. “We went back and started the album from scratch,” Bradley remembers. “We decided to approach it in a more organic way. I had been editing it to pop perfection — but then we breathed new life into it and it came together really quickly.”
Dustin Bentall is a well-travelled troubadour in his own right, and he contributed five of his own songs to the recording sessions at Afterlife Studios. Dustin says, “I had this batch of songs that weren’t really going to fit my next record, and I realized they worked seamlessly with Hunting.”
Bradley and Dustin’s songs mesh perfectly on Whatever You Need, tied together by pillowy vintage synth pads and surging rock rhythms. Returning collaborator John Raham (Destroyer) acted as engineer as well as drummer, Paul Rigby (Neko Case) added additional guitars, and Mother Mother’s Ryan Guldemond co-wrote a handful of tracks.
Opener “Scenes from TV Screens” begins the album with muted ‘80s guitars and sly, slinky pop hooks, while “Black Shirt” cranks the distortion with heavy rock riffs, and “Better With Time” is streaked with twinkling synth orchestrations — the result of Bradley’s fondness for spending hours perfecting a single sound. A swooning cover of Sparklehorse’s “Gold Day” is the lone holdover from Hunting’s scrapped prior sessions, acting as a link between Hunting’s early days and their current iteration.
The album’s tone is one of joyful, sonic exploration, marking a big departure from the lonesome folk Hunting used to be known for. “I loved making that first album, but I’m not quite as melancholy as I was back then,” Bradley acknowledges. “I’m a lot more content and life is a lot more solid. I’m not constantly wandering around by myself after some terrible heartbreak.”
That contentment shines on Whatever You Need. With electrifying collaborative chemistry between friends and an anything-goes approach to catchy synth-rock, Hunting has been reborn.
Hunting – Gold Day