Hum
You'd Prefer an Astronaut


4.0
excellent

Review

by NineBitFable USER (1 Reviews)
January 15th, 2007 | 125 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hum turns out a great set of songs in "You'd Prefer an Astronaut", creating an atmosphere that is best likened to, well, staring at the night sky – it’s all achingly beautiful, but you can’t help but feel a bit sad at how small and insignificant you

Insecurity is a bitch. There's no way to hide from it, and if an insecure person ever tries to confront their problem, it will, by the nature of the feeling, make them more insecure than they were previously. There are, therefore, very few ways to deal with this issue. HUM is a very insecure band. With good reason, also. Although they never could have known this back when recording "You'd Prefer an Astronaut," it would end up selling poorly, yet wind up being their best seller. It's criminal, really. There's a video of them on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHp-7JjEaUQ ) that shows them playing their only hit 'Stars' on 120 Minutes. They look nervous as hell. You can almost feel it at the beginning of the performance, as Mike tentatively sings those nearly famous lyrics "Thinks she missed the train to mars, she's out back counting stars," while staring dead at the floor. Then the song kicks in. All of that insecurity is, at least for a few moments, washed aside in a blast of distortion and cymbals, as this kind of geeky group cathartically lays their song down for the greater population to hear. "You'd Prefer an Astronaut" carries this split personality throughout, delicate, soft and insecure at some points, and at others crushingly loud. The atmosphere this dichotomy creates is best likened to, well, staring at the night sky – it's all achingly beautiful, but you can't help but feel a bit sad at how small and insignificant you are.

There are some great moments of musicianship throughout the album, wether it be some of the best riffing in alt-rock history, or a few really nice moments from the rhythm section. Jeff Dimpsey in particular has to be the most under appreciated drummer of all time. His cymbal work is truly something to be marveled, and really adds quite a bit to the swelling nature of the music. The vocals from Matt Talbot fit this music perfectly, being a human anchor in the big scary universe around him, although some listeners may find his 'screaming' on songs like "The Pod" to be a bit grating.

All of this isn't to say this album is without its weak points, however. "The Very Old Man" and "Songs of Farewell and Departure" in particular kind of sputter and go nowhere. This is especially apparent in "Songs of Farewell and Departure", as it goes nowhere for nearly six and a half minutes. It's not quite as bad as "The Very Old Man", however, which really kills the momentum the album had up until that tragic song choice. Some of the other songs also suffer from this sprawling songwriting. "The Suicide Machine" should have been a minute or so shorter. When HUM nails a song, however, they're the best rock band around. "Stars" is obviously a monster of a song, supported by an orgasmic riff and lyrics that totally sum up the way you feel about that girl that doesn't say much in your advanced physics class. "Little Dipper" is a fantastic introduction to the album as well, casting you into a universe where the nebula and black holes are represented by swirling walls of distortion rather than gravity and gasses. "I'd Like Your Hair Long" is a great example of how HUM's sprawling song-writing sensibilities can work under some circumstances. It has a few distinct sections, which give it an almost Prog-Rock feel, but each section has an identifiable hook and is engaging to the listener. It hints at what was to come on their next album, the equally brilliant, yet more consistent "Downward is Heavenward".

Insecurity is a fact of life for HUM. They were too straightforward for the underground, but just never seemed to catch on with the mainstream. It leaves them in an unenviable position for the aging process, and because of this many have declared HUM's albums to be lost gems from the alt-rock era. I think HUM's answer to whether or not this bothers them would be to turn their beat up guitars as loud as they'll go and blow your mind.


user ratings (209)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
samthebassman
July 24th 2007


2164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent album...

Zebra
Moderator
March 26th 2008


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Aside from "Stars" and possibly "Little Dipper" no other songs jump out and grab my attention. With that said this album is very good and has some really awesome riffs. I'm shocked that this only has one comment, it seems like something that would be more popular around here.

HUMGUY009
December 11th 2008


35 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I remember first seeing the music video for the song stars when it first came out. I was just a kid so I wasn't really into music. Then about two just two years back they gave it on mtv. It sounded so familiar. This album just makes me think about good times.This Message Edited On 12.12.08

kingsoby1
Emeritus
December 11th 2008


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

awesome stuff

DeadToPain
January 18th 2009


694 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow!
Good review. I really disagree, but enough with that.


BigHans
November 16th 2009


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought she'd be there holding daisys, she always weights for me! Love that song.

dentists
February 8th 2010


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review
this is one of those albums that really shook me up, changed my outlook on certain things. it was a great time in my life, and a heart-wrenching one..

accompliceofmydeath
June 2nd 2010


4227 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Incredible album.

Digging: Cruel Hand - The Negatives

Inveigh
March 25th 2011


25019 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wow, so this kind of rules, thanks Sobhi

also, Hans, I'm disappointed you've never told me about these guys before...

BigHans
March 26th 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah sorry man, never brought this one up. Truthfully I havent heard this in like 10 years, aside from Stars, which is fucking EPIC, and the Pod.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
March 26th 2011


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah i used to really dig these guys back in high school

jmorris724
April 15th 2011


44 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I disagree with the review in that I think that "the very old man" and "songs of departure" are fine,
but that "Why I Like the Robbins" and "I hate it too" were the weakest songs. But the album was so
well produced that even those two are ok to listen to from time to time.

Another think I must disagree with the reviewer on is that they completely missed the significance of
"Suicide Machine". It's the best song on the album as well as the best of their career.

BigHans
May 16th 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

These guys should have been bigger

mezcalworm
July 5th 2011


2 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I have to vehemently disagree with the opinion on "The Very Old Man," as I think it's placed perfectly within the record and is an incredibly moving song. To each their own, I guess. There aren't really any weak points on this album, IMO.

sportsboy
September 30th 2011


640 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

just heard i hate it too

never heard this band before but they kind of rule

Digging: Oneohtrix Point Never - Rifts

BigHans
December 28th 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

SHE THINKS SHE MISSED THE TRAIN TO MARS

Relinquished
December 28th 2011


25100 Comments


SHE'S OUT BACK COUNTING STARS

BigHans
December 28th 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing the first time I heard that song.

Relinquished
December 28th 2011


25100 Comments


beavis and butthead for me

and if the ending to "I'd Like Your Hair Long" doesn't capture the 90's alternative rock sound then I don't know what does.

BigHans
December 28th 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Suicide Machine is a quintessential mid 90s alt rock jam.

Beavis and Butthead ruled. So does Id Like Your Hair Long



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