Published Feb 23, 2018After 2014's How's It Goin'? and 2015's Sup, Human Music turn that line of questioning inwards for their self-titled third record. The Winnipeg trio's 15 new songs emanate everyday observations and personal introspections with layabout abandon.
In other words, the tone set by previous records remains mostly unadjusted: Human Music floats like a lone cloud across a blue sky, the edges of songs tinged with endless-summer melancholy. An early highlight, "Sending Messages," channels lonely boredom with particularly poignant bummer-surf vibes. The production quality is higher here than on previous releases, with crisper tones and clearer recording across the board. But the less-fuzz approach seems to cost some of the band's preternatural gift for atmospheric affect: tracks like "Sidewalk Song" and "Combo Lock" feel pared down, to the detriment of the emotional depths they're chasing, sliding by without much resonance.
Still, there's undeniably skilled craft on display here, especially in the album's latter half: "Mortis" uses echoed vocals and chorus harmonies to sweeten its malaise, "Tattletree" draws out a soft-rock plea to connect beyond a SMS screen, and "Terraforming" ends the album on a cosmic, exploratory instrumental. So while a bit uneven across its 15 songs, Human Music still manages to coax quality euphony out of its pared-down setup. (Electric Heat)