Anymore, it always takes something a little extra to surprise us and on June 23rd, Chicago’s Hum did just that as they dropped Inlet, their first album in 22 years. If you have been following Hum’s movements over the last couple years the existence of new music shouldn’t be that shocking as they have been forthcoming and sparsely active as a band but the hard fact that a 56-minute full length has now been released is adrenaline heightening and eyebrow raising.
With their last record, Downward Is Heaven, releasing so long ago there would have been no guess how a 2020 release from Hum would turn out. Sure, you would think their signature guitar chug and style would still exist but a continuation of the 97′ era music would seem like a stretch for any band. That long absent timeline plus the surprise nature of Inlet finds Hum seizing a great opportunity in a time still full of isolation and uncertainty.
Inlet is heavy. Really heavy. In all the ways that are good, Hum hits the biggest riffs of their career and creates new monumental soundscapes that show their band maturity on Inlet. You combine this with singer Matt Talbott’s sturdy vocals and this record is like a giant Nazaré Canyon surging wave that is intimidating, looming and incredible to watch or in this case – hear. This all encompassing vibe is Inlet’s brute strength because it just drenches you in a progish shoegaze that is polished and bright but completely weighted. Most of the progression found here is that Hum has clearly had time to fine tune their art and everything delivered is really just for their satisfaction.
Where before, crossing the six minute mark was where Hum tied things up but now on Inlet, four of the eight tracks pass the eight-minute mark. That gives Hum a canvas to change tempos, give each instrument its moment in the spotlight and just play. I feel like after all this time, Hum just wants to play. These compositions are complete for sure but not one track is constrained. This setting has created a timeless heavy shoegaze rocker with Inlet. And, even though I really like their RCA releases and Inlet is vacant of a traditional “single” like “Stars” or “Comin’ Home,” the advanced musicianship and sonic experience that Inlet provides represents the best album of Hum’s career.
Key Tracks: “In The Den” / “Step Into You” / “Shapeshifter”
Artists With Similar Fire: Failure / Baroness / Elder
-Reviewed by Christopher Anthony