Low Hummer – Modern Tricks For Living

Posted: 26 August 2021 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Dance To The Radio Records – 17th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Between 2005 and 2011, Dance to the Radio was the label that wasn’t lonely synonymous with the Leeds scene, it practically was the Leeds scene, and contributed to putting the city and its bands back on the map, releasing The Pigeon Detectives, Forward Russia, This Et Al, iLiKETRAiNS, and Grammatrics, as well as a number of wide-ranging compilations featuring the like of Pulled Apart by Horses. Returning in 2017 after a six-year hiatus, they’ve focused on a small but carefully-curated roster, giving a home to Tallsaint, Aural Aggro faves Dead Naked Hippies, Jake Whiskin, and Hull’s Low Hummer, who may be relatively new but have established themselves quickly, showcasing an energetic alt-rock sound that incorporates elements of grunge, punk, postpunk, and electro-pop with potent results. Debuting in October 2019 with the single ‘I Choose Live News’, the band have marked a steadily upward trajectory in the profile stakes ever since.

Granted, over half the tracks on Modern Tricks For Living have been released as singles in the last couple of years or so, making this as much a compilation as an album proper, but nevertheless, it hangs together nicely, on account of its stylistic unity and lyrical themes, and it’s well sequenced too, with the ups and downs just where they need to be.

Classic themes of angst, anxiety, and alienation dominate, and they never grow tired or fade. They possess a universality and an eternal relevance. The power and passion of the emotions may fade with age, but they never go away: most disaffected teens still feel it, unless they sell out and become self-satisfied, complacent parts of the machine. And some do – I’ve lost friends that way – but many of us still burn with the anguish of adolescence. As such, despite the band’s youth, there’s a universality in their appeal.

‘These days I feel like I’m dead’: the drawling vocal on ‘Tell You What’ is pure grunge nihilism, but there’s a sparkly electropop aspect to it, too. And the more you delve into Modern Tricks For Living, the more detail and the more canny crafting it reveals: amidst the brashy, trashy surface, there’s a lot more going on. These songs aren’t superficial, rushed, three-chord thrashes – well, they are, but they’re a lot more besides, and that’s the appeal of Low Hummer.

‘Take Arms’ packs some attack and makes for a strong opener. It doesn’t waste any time in planting a powerful earworm, with a motorik beat and bubbling synth bass providing the spine of a spiky punky indie banger that’s pure 90s in its vibe – the guitars fizz and the shouty female backing vocals reactive the riot grrrl sound and it kicks hard.

One of the few tracks not to have been released previously, ‘Don’t You Ever Sleep’, is an exuberant, bouncy paean to boredom that powers through in a whirl of synths in two and three quarter minutes, and it’s exhilarating, and ‘I Choose Live News’ crashes in as the third track, and it’s another relentless rush.

The Curesque ‘Never Enough’ (one suspects the title isn’t entirely accidental either) brings a change of tempo and switches the full-throttle fizz for an altogether dreamier form. It’s well-placed, and proves they’re not one-dimensional or one-pace, hinting at a range that they’re yet to fully explore. Slinging lines like ‘I hate this place / I hate the world’ , they pack in the angst and nihilism

‘Sometimes I Wish’ has some neat bass runs and a cyclical guitar riff that builds, while a wild lead part tops it all off. The tempo change towards the end is both unexpected and well-executed. ‘Slow One’ isn’t all that slow, but these things are all relative, and ‘The People, This Place’, another previous single release provides a blistering finale. And what can I say? This is a cracking album from beginning to end, that presents a solid selection of songs. Modern Tricks For Living is exciting and exhilarating, and it’s as simple as that.

AA

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