At only 19, most teens were permanently camped out on their mother’s couch, while Gabe Reasoner is turning out his one-man band. Armed with a keyboard, a drum and a mic, Reasoner’s alter ego, Hunter Dumped Us Here, frequents the local coffee shop crowd where he belts out electronic-hardcore-pop melodies.
While we don’t know who “Hunter” is and why he dumped us and never called, all he wants to do is “sing a pretty song to you,” as he sings in the opening track, “Uncage.”
That particular track starts with a brash, solo drum beat and bubbly keyboard riffs, accompanied by vocals that go from emotional serenading to screaming to Announcer Voice to spoken prose. I can’t help but feel like he’s left nothing unsaid. That is until you realize there are six more tracks.
And it only gets more intense – bordering on strange – from there.
“Storybook I” is the preceding track, which can best be described by that moment in your sister’s favorite romantic comedy where the leading man sits down at a random piano (that probably wasn’t there five seconds ago) to serenade his lady. If you’re thinking to yourself, “How cheesy,” then yes, you would be correct. With lyrics like, “… and you know she has eyes, and you know you can see them,” it’s hard to pin down whether the slight humor is deliberate or if it’s just a testament to his immaturity as a writer.
By track three, it’s hard to deny the comedic undertone that weighs this album down, deliberate or not. Particularly reminiscent of Ludo’s “Love Me Dead,” while there’s no question that the material is emotional to the writer, there is a light-hearted tone to it. Reasoner seems to take heavily from Thrice but frequently surprises the listener when he breaks out a “middle-school beat” and goes all Eminem on us (“Pastor Passion Crime”). The remainder of the album remains a mystery, with psychotic tracks like, “Storybook II” that follows the pattern of juvenile lyrics such as, “And if you ever go, I’ll smash my piano to hell,” and, “I’ll disappear into the woods and talk to all the sticks.” The final track is a stagnant, breathy ballad that leaves one last surprise in the form of a sound clip from “Night of the Living Dead” in the midst of the swelling keyboard melodies. The 1968 horror film about bloodthirsty zombies seems disconnected compared to the sweet-natured sentiment.
Reasoner certainly has the chops to hold his own, but it’s clear HDUH is new to the scene. While the music doesn’t lack a soul, there is a glaring immaturity in the songwriting that will only improve as HDUH experiences and matures. This album is a lot like watching someone bleed his or her heart out on stage for you; there’s an undeniable vulnerability, but it’s also awkward. Very, very awkward.