Album of the Week: Johnny Hunter – Want (2022 LP)

Slowly building their sound over the past 4 years, Sydney lords Johnny Hunter are here with their debut album Want – and it’s everything you could have hoped for from the band. For the uninitiated, Johnny Hunter have been slogging away since emerging from the shadows of Sydney’s grim (read non-exist) nightlife in ’18/’19. They have put together a small catalogue of tracks that will suit anyone who doesn’t mind listening to a modern version of The Smiths, Joy Division or The Cure, albeit with moments that soar and make you want to chant at the top of your lungs with pure joy.

Album title and opening track “Want” is a rager from the opening seconds, built to be listened to at kick-ons or as a pump up song. Despite the upbeat nature of the music, there’s an underlying vulnerability in the lyrics as frontman Nick Hutt bellows about wanting ‘to be somebody to you/ I will be all that you want’. It’s a frenetic and honest opener that sets the tone for the rest of the album. “Endless Days” is up next and again showcases an infectious urgency from the band. The chorus is one of the more powerful moments on the release, as the sunny energy of the track pulses through for more than the song’s three-minute run. It’s an absolute winner!

From here on in for the most part, the album generally heads in a slightly more dark yet solemn tone, as the band embraces the sound they’ve become known for on earlier releases. “The Floor” is dark and pulsating, filled with trauma and a necessity to escape, while previous single “Life” leans right into The Cure’s influence as the pulsing drums maintain the heartbeat of the song. “Dreams” is filled with a level of hope and longing (‘I don’t ever want to wake up and realise I’m still dreaming of you’) as it spans out into a guitar heavy, classic rock sound with a bridge that hits all the right spots.

Over the past three and a bit years, Johnny Hunter has filtered into my playlists – so much so, they continually feature heavily in my own end-of-year or most-played lists. Songs like “Try As You May” and “Pain & Joy”, while not featuring on the album, are the type of tracks that have set the foundation and standard for what is achieved on the ten tracks of Want.

Apart from the obvious influences noted earlier, the band does lean into other 1980’s favourites, with “Fracture” touching on a Spandau Ballet space, and honestly, I’m here for it. “Cry Like A Man” moves into a realm that has traditionally been ignored in the media, as the song’s themes of toxic masculinity and society’s feeling that if you’re masculine you can’t show vulnerability seeps through. It’s a powerful song and surely one that’ll be on setlists for years to come.

Second to last is “Take Off”, a soaring four-minute ballad that has the same forcefulness and sincerity of “Endless Days”. A hidden delicacy at the back of the album, “Take Off” more than definitely deserves its place on Want. Closer “Clover” is the epitome of what the album aims to achieve. It’s sincere and honest, downtrodden yet filled with an undying hope that peaks with its thunderous chorus, as Hutt belts out ‘we can get out of this mess that we’re in’. It’s a satisfying, emphatic and glorious ending to a solid debut release.

For a first up album, Want is everything Johnny Hunter could have hoped to achieve when they started out as a band. There’s a sense of nostalgia and strength in their songs that bodes well for their ability to connect with listeners beyond a traditional rock scene.


Want is out Friday 24 June. Johnny Hunter heads out on tour in July. You can get tickets here.