I thought this review was going to turn out longer than it did.
I think that this got across a good description of the album more than how well it works as an album. I really feel as though I could’ve gone much deeper. Oh well.
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Hum are one of those bands that makes music. You could say that whilst it’s their outlet, what they produce is our… Inlet… into their world of sound and expression.
Inlet is a massive-sounding record; Somewhat-direct in places, drawn out in others and huge in atmosphere. There’s a strong attention paid to sound and layering, so not only do the songs sound big; they sound thick and weighty. The percussion isn’t always filling every moment, instead going for less in places and thus providing a strong sense of heave and mass. Loud, raging guitar, hard-hitting drums and thick bass locking in with each other, creating a sound feeling much like a rolling ocean. However, despite how loud and big the album gets, there’s a calmness that carries through all the music.
Some of the songs draw closer to a sense of being straightforward. Whilst it’s great that most of Inlet is this massive, weighty thing, tracks such as “In the Den”, “Step into You” and “Folding” help to keep the album from floating away. They keep a good flow going by holding things back a bit more, though if the album was shorter then perhaps they’d feel less necessary. That said, whilst “Step into You” plays it a little too plainly, these songs are most certainly welcome. You experience being awash with sound, have it pull back for a bit into something more direct, then have it all flow around you again.
The vocals carry a sense calmness and clarity to them that builds quite easily on what’s happening with the music. The words delivered feel introspective in places, as well as melancholic. However, the delivery keeps the words sounding quite measured and thoughtful. It’s a combination that sinks in; the lyrics and their delivery fitting the music is moving in places, but they linger without miring you in misery.
Inlet has what feels like two endings. The first, “Folding” keeps things a bit “smaller” and melodic in a way that implies some sort of closure. Eventually all of its noise falls back and it becomes more peaceful. That too plays out and drops away. leaving the song to close with ambience that – in terms of imagery – feels much like sunlight getting through an overcast sky. “Shapeshifter” comes off more like a post-script. It’s a bit spacier and slower than “Folding”, though (sans an ambient section) it follows that song’s pattern. “Shapeshifter” ends a bit more pretty and gentle in sound though; whilst the ambience of “Folding” is a sublime moment, “Shapeshifter” provides an ending that’s a bit softer and just as conclusive.
Whilst it’s possible to describe Inlet as loud, raging instrumentation playing massive, atmospheric and beautiful music, that sells it short. It doesn’t quite capture the spirit of what Hum are doing. In a way the album feels a lot like a journey; an emotional one, but one that (perhaps) looks for some sort of balance and understanding.
Inlet is available here.