If you were to break a certain folksy dictum and judge HUMDRUM's CD by its cover, you'd be right to assume that space is the place for this local quartet. The artwork for Individual Man features a hand-drawn image of an astronaut adrift in the cosmos, and the track list features titles such as "Hide and Seek in the Universe" and "Outerspace [SIC]." But for all the celestial reveries, vocoder freakouts and ambient soundscapes – the band cheekily thanks their delay pedal in the liners — HUMDRUM's music is solid, two-guitar indie rock. While the band certainly pulls from space-rock heroes (and possible namesake) Hum, other prominent touchstones include Weezer's garage-pop, Spacehog's effervescent rock & roll and even the Foo Fighters' power-chord crunches.
Guitarist Paul Maguire and bassist Dan Meehan share vocal duties, and the songs range from the clever and peppy (opening number "I'm Attractive") to more nuanced ballads ("Fantasy"). It's competent, occasionally catchy stuff, but too often HUMDRUM drifts out into the ether with nothing to bolster the songs. Drummer Mic Boshans is tasked with shuffling the tempo on nearly every song, and these rhythmic shifts help propel the songs along and give the album a pulse. Former So Many Dynamos guitarist (and RFT contributor) Ryan Wasoba recorded and engineered the record, but in many ways Humdrum is like a photo negative of Wasoba's old band: Where SMD has too many ideas and not enough time to explore them, Humdrum stretches so-so songs past their breaking points. The band is much better when it condenses its key elements, as on the song "Hide and Seek in the Universe," where low, rumbling drums and high, dreamy guitar strokes leave plenty of space for vocals to connect. But on a thirteen-track album, those bright moments are a little too spaced out.
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