Twenty-six years ago when HUM dropped their debut album You’d Prefer An Astronaut, the music world was ruled by fuzz heavy guitars. The album was ahead of the curve in how its was written and performed. While there were bands with similar riffs, few mixed such a guitar heavy sound into one package. After their follow up release Downward is Heavenward, the band pretty much disappeared. In their twenty-two year absence, occasionally you’d hear their influence on newer acts. But in the past five years it’s become evident that a return from the Illinois band would be a good idea. On Tuesday the silence was ended as the band dropped Inlet and ended an almost twenty years silence. The eight song release is a masterful work of pedal heavy alternative rock and shoegaze that hits perfectly in these uncertain times.
The opening track “Waves” returns to the band’s signature mix of hearty riffs and fuzz induced guitars. The squeals off the fret boards meet with easy going vocals to create a tone that’s hard not to love. The chord progressions alone craft a build that mixes like a cake being baked while delivering a blanket of heavy tone. The following song “In the Den” takes the band’s sound further, offering different hints of sound before the chunky riffs layer upon and steer the song into a new head space. As enlightening and exciting as it is for new music from these guys, adding new sounds just shows how far ahead they are even this far on. But while “Desert Rambler” is an over nine minute exploration in tones, it’s not where things end.
“The Summoning” feels like a true return to form and picks up where the band left things. The murky bass that swirls with the distorted riffs and clappy drums reminds you of everything that made you love the band initially. The melodic touches of “Cloud City,” and the searing notes on “Shapeshifter” sound like these guys never took time away from being a band. But as impressive as these songs are, the favorite comes with “Step Into You.” The shortest run time of the album, the song is snappy and up without employing pop graces. The sway between the band’s drive and the high gain guitars creates the perfect mood for the vocals to reside and take the song from your ears to modern shoegaze banger. The end result is an album that’s desperately wanted from a band you figured you’d never hear from again. Maybe 2020 isn’t the worst after all.
The album is available as a preorder vinyl available through Earth Analog Records in the Polyvinyl Records web store. The album can also be purchased in all digital outlets or streamed on all streaming sites.
Image Credits: Photo Courtesy of Artist.