Hum dishes out a comeback album after a 22 year hiatus. Inlet was released in bandcamp with no advance warning, and it has garnered a lot of attention to no surprise. The album is an expansive guitar journey from one of the bands that heavily influenced the 90’s rock sound.
Inlet has the blend of shoegaze, alternative and space rock that Hum has been known for in their previous releases. What sets this album apart is its ambitious drive to expand the boundaries of guitar music in all directions. Prog rock and post-rock stylings are added in, with soundscapes that evoke a grand sense of scale and synths to embellish the guitar sound with an otherworldly glow.
Hum has never shied away from epic odysseys and deep introspections, but their lengthiest songs were only used as album closers in their past 2 releases. This time they’ve upped the ante, with most songs reaching the 8 minute mark. It’s as if the band has gone on a pilgrimage in search of knowledge and has come back with something to make up for the lost time.
These epics include “Desert Rambler”, which keeps a steady pace and takes its time, full of sprawling riffs that stretch gradually into greater heights. Opener “Waves” layers guitar sounds in a thick tsunami of crashing noise, peppered with a synth hum that gives it a dramatic flair. “The Summoning” is sharp, sinister and ominous. The riffs are rabid, with a metallic tinge that can slice and tear. Matt Talbott’s vocals hover above the mix like an overseer, searching the landscape for a place to find solace in.
“Step into You” is the closest Hum gets to resembling 90’s alternative, with a gritty guitar tone bordering on metal. In it Talbot uses oblique concepts to express melancholy, grief and loneliness: “I am lost / Chasing thoughts and a dying moon / I am over it / I’m a dried up, wind blown cocoon”. In “Folding”, surreal themes are also used to compliment the cosmic swirl of shoegaze textures with lines like : “These fields will wither and die / This temple will burn” and “Do you feel the hemisphere / Do you feel the same like you used to?”
Inlet ends with a fantastical saga in “Shapeshifter.” It finds the narrator transcending into different creatures in a time-and-space defying quest to find love. Guiding its listener to the trip with a web of riffs and effects.
Hum’s reunion album is a gift we never expected to receive. It pushes old ideas into new horizons, and comes straight from the progenitors of the guitar sound that marked an era. That alone is a good reason to check this out.