Review Summary: Doubling back on themselves.
Well thank heavens they finally changed that godawful band name. The Humble (formerly known as Mo Lowda and The Humble – I know right) are a Philadelphia-based Southeastern rock trio that won significant recognition on the back of their sinewy, delay-saturated debut, 2013’s Curse the Weather
. Jordan Caiola (vocals and guitar), Shane Woods (drums), and Nate Matulis (bass) first earned their music schools chops by playing at a weekly open-mic night at the Temple University campus before a series of well-received performances eventually led the school’s student-run record label to sign the trio and produce their debut record for free. A wildly successful supporting tour followed, culminating in The Humble obtaining a coveted slot at the Firefly summer festival alongside established household names like The Killers, Morrissey, and Kings of Leon. There’s no news on a proper follow-up record yet, but for now, there's Act Accordingly
, a five-song EP which promises to further refine the trio’s already formidable sound.
But while Curse the Weather
boldly explored the overlap between classic Southeastern rock and contemporary arena rock techniques, Act Accordingly
’s auditory palette is more rote and less transcendent. The EP starts unconvincingly with “Intro”, a slice of distorted mood-building music which aims for some last-call poignancy but only ends up falling flat on its face. “I’m sorry but I don’t believe you’re coming home for dinner anymore,” moans Caiola over a few largely unsurprising chords; thankfully, the entire affair only lasts for all of thirty-six seconds. “No One Stops” and “Right Time, Wrong Location” are meaningfully better, but The Humble’s new-found predilection for linear melodies again does a disservice to the memory of Curse the Weather
’s relatively unconventional worldview. Indeed, the trio’s music is best when it attempts to tie together completely disparate influences – 2013’s excellent “Where the Whitetails Go”, for instance, featured a fractured cadence that gradually spaced out into a sequence of trumpets and whistles, while recontextualized numbers such as “The Water’s Gonna Save Me” and “Jumping at Shadows” emancipated Caiola’s invigorating rock yowl and allowed bassist Matulis the sort of dexterity that most can only dream of showcasing. Precious little of that ambition is allowed to return here.
Thankfully, there is still hope – "Runaway" is Act Accordingly
’s epicentre, easily the most digestible of the EP's five songs and one that might actually have qualified for inclusion on the band's debut. Its clean, good-natured guitar and stubborn melody become, after a few spins, a welcome reminder of how The Humble remain a band thoroughly worth keeping track of. True, the fact that the trio may have lost some of their menace is worth getting a little twitchy over, but there remains evidence that they might yet mature into an even better band - that name change alone is indicative of that.