Jeff Dimpsey Bass, Vocals
Tim Lash Guitar, Vocals, Voices
Bryan St. Pere Drums, Vocals
Matt Talbott Guitar, Vocals
Released in 1997, this is HUM's final album, and it is often called their masterpiece (though, to be fair, this is the only release of theirs that I've heard). All Music Guide has called this album a "lost classic of '90s rock." I would have to say that I tend to agree with this. I had never heard of them until very recently, and now I'm angry that I was not let in on this little secret. But that's why this review is here, to let all of you who were like me up until now in on it. The album itself is at times gorgeous, at times extremely loud and epic, and at times gentle and personal. The band manages to cover all of this with only traditional rock instrumentation, and is even able to make music that is simultaneously gorgeous, loud, epic, gentle, and personal. Since you guys seem to love these, I will now break it down and do track by track reviews. Note that all of the ratings I give to individual tracks are in comparison to one another, and not to any sort of universal rating system. A 5/5 is a song that I think is one of the best ON THE ALBUM.
1. Isle of the Cheetah (6:38) - This is a great opening track. It starts with some sort of ambient sounds, then the song kicks in. This one really gives a good idea of what the entire album sounds like. It's spacey, with a very dense wall of guitar sound. Somehow, the mix makes it feel very gentle despite how dense the sound really is. The vocals are moderately quiet in the mix, and they are really pretty. 4/5.
2. Comin' Home (2:45) - A shorter tune comes next. It starts off with a neat guitar part, which gives way to a similar heavy guitar sound to the first tune. The vocals are a bit louder and seem to be more a focal point than in "Isle of the Cheetah." It's also heavier and more focused. A good tune, and a good contrast to the more epic and fleshed out tracks on the album. 3/5.
3. If You Are To Bloom (5:11) - This song starts out with some guitar sound, then a bit of acoustic strumming. From there an electric guitar riff comes in. It's more riff oriented and catchy than the first tune, but it is similarly spacey and thick. Around 3:20 or so the acoustic guitar comes back and joins the electric guitar, and the vocals fall out for awhile. It's not really a solo. When the vocals come back, they are drowned out by the guitar, drums, and bass. They're very quiet in the mix. I like how this sounds, thought. It ends with some guitar feedback. 3/5.
4. Ms. Lazarus (3:38) - This song has a nice guitar intro like most of the other songs. It's not as heavy as some of the other stuff. The vocals are louder on this one, like on "Comin' Home." It's got some nice acoustic and electric guitar parts. The track seems to gain momentum as it goes along, then the energy comes back down near the end. A really nice song. 4/5.
5. Afternoon With the Axolotis (6:29) - This one starts of slowly and quietly, and the guitars build up. Then the drums come in, and the guitar falls back out. A nice soft guitar part is present for awhile, and then some more distorted strumming begins. The vocals come in, quiet in the mix as you heard in previous tunes. It seems that the longer, more exploratory tunes seem to be guitar-centered with quite, understated vocals. The shorter rock tunes focus on the vocal more. The vocals are delivered in a very droll manner. Sort of monotone, but they add a lot to the tune nonetheless. After the first vocal verse finishes, there is a long guitar interlude. Then there is a second verse, followed by another long guitar part. This guitar part dissipates into nothing, and the sound of a helicopter finishes the last 30 or so seconds of the tune. 4/5
6. Green To Me (3:55) - This is a much more upbeat tune than the last, with a catchy guitar riff. Similar to "Ms. Lazarus". The vocal part is really pretty on this one. It comes at the perfect point in the record, because it breaks up some of the monotony with its very upbeat and different sound. Love it. 5/5.
7. Dreamboat (6:06) - This has some squealy guitars and nice drums in the beginning. It's rip-roarin'! Then things quiet down a lot before the vocals come in. As you can expect, things get moving and loud once again a bit later. This is another one that has a really great vocal part, but the guitars are excellent as well. About 4 minutes in things come to a halt, and change gears. It stays a stellar track, though. 5/5.
8. The Inuit Promise (6:06) - This one starts of pretty big, with an electric guitar riff. The intro is very short, and the vocals come in almost immediately. To be honest, it isn't a particularly strong start. Something about this tune just doesn't jive right for me, I can't quite put my finger on what it is. When the guitars fall almost completely out for awhile, about 3:45 or so, the vocal part is kind of appealing. The riff comes back, and it feels wrong to me again. I like the sounds at the very end, they're cool. I don't know what it is about this tune, but I can only give it a: 2/5.
9. Apollo (5:49) - This song is straight up gorgeous. It starts out very soft with a little guitar riff and some subtle cymbal crashes along with a nice repeated vocal part. I dig it from the start. Then the bass kicks in and the drums start to play a bit more. A different guitar part starts, and then comes the first verse. It's real down-tempo and sort of sad. It's the most sparse song on the album, as well. The parts seem to rise and fall throughout the tune, but never get as loud or dense as any of the other songs on the album. 5/5.
10. The Scientists (5:25) - This song is much more intense from the start than "Apollo". Heavy riffing, man! You think the guitar part will subside a bit just before the vocals come in, but it stays full throughout the first verse. Then it does fall down for the pretty vocal chorus. This is a really great tune, and the perfect way to finish things off. 5/5.
Hey, so that was fun.
As an overall rating, I give this album a very respectable: 4/5