Van Hunt – The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets
2014-2015 is already shaping up to the be the year that cool, slinky funk slips back into the hipster playlists of the world. Between D’Angelo’s Black Messiah and Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly the sounds of the early 1970s are coming back in a big way. Add in Van Hunt to this conversation. Hailing from Dayton, OH – home of Guided By Voices! – Van Hunt has been on an upward swing since the early 00s through a judicious usage of soul, funk, R&B, and smooth sexuality. He’s also the poster boy for talent being screwed around by major labels; after two albums with Capitol Records he was shuffled around to a subsidiary label and his third album, Popular, was shelved despite being a solid album by all accounts. Van Hunt struck out on his own afterwards, turning to crowdfunding to get The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets made. Thank god for a generous internet, because this is one rewarding album.
It’s a subtle album, full of understated percussion, slinky basslines, versatile keyboard work, and expertly integrated guitar lines, almost all of which are played by Van Hunt himself. It’s a tour de force for a talented man, a modern day disciple of Prince with a hint of both Sly Stone and David Bowie. The Prince influence is the big one though; subtle and restrained as The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets is, it is absolutely awash in sexuality. In that it sets itself apart from the political and cultural examinations of America that characterize both Black Messiah and To Pimp A Butterfly. This is the bedroom addition of the modern retro-funk movement, the freak in the sheets in contrast to the righteous movement in the streets.