July 25, 2020

Humdrum

Iceberg, right ahead!

Space rock honchos Hum dropped a titanic anchor last month titled Inlet. Occasionally teased but never verified, the band’s first voyage since 1998’s watershed Downward Is Heavenward is being hailed as their crowning achievement and “most compelling album ever.” This manner of misplaced mania regarding revelatory reunions persists with indie music’s oceans drying up and fans’ thirsts increasingly unquenched. At best, Hum half refill the reservoir.

The fact that a Hum release drifted silently into Internet ports without publicity is telling. Inlet doesn’t navigate new nautical miles. It undeniably sounds like Hum. They’ve never blared their fuzz foghorns louder, and the typhoon of atmospherics drowns even the closest cartographic challengers. But Hum focus too much on harpooning that whale, neglecting a gaping hole in the record’s hull.

The uncharted choral riff territory DIH and You’d Prefer An Astronaut discovered became the Dead Sea Scrolls of guitar tablature. Inlet unearths no such treasure. Captain Matt Talbott and first mate Tim Lash don’t dive as deep or cast the nets as wide, shoving off untethered to circuitous structural concepts and effectively throwing bassist Jeff Dimpsey and drummer Bryan St. Pere overboard. It’s a perplexing portolan considering the strong rip currents amidst the murk of moorings “In The Den,” “Cloud City,” “Folding,” and “Waves.” Their collective buoyancy ensures the album stays afloat when it runs aground on its other angling atolls.

Inlet would be a dreamboat debut for novice mariners. Hum, however, are old hands at sailing sonic seas. They’re just not all on deck here.


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