‘Modern Tricks For Living’ — Low Hummer — Album review 

Spoiler: The debut album from Low Hummer isn’t the manual for existing that its name, ‘Modern Tricks For Living’, suggests. But that’s all part of its charm. What you actually get from the Hull six-piece is a ten-track collection of punk-infused, experimental garage rock gems. It’s a triumphant record from an emerging band, alright. 

‘Take Arms’ explosively counts the album in, with its instant electronics leading proceedings and somehow offering a token similarity to White Lies in places. It’s a sharp track that’s ferociously pacy and deliriously angsty. The fun, skewed style of the distorted, contorted riffs on ‘Don’t You Ever Sleep’ still grips me, while ‘I Choose Live News’ is basically Arctic Monkeys on a heavy day. 

There’s a dreamy, stars-in-your-eyes vibe to the scuzzy, darkly mellow ‘Never Enough’, which I’d say is another clear front runner of the lot. It’s also where we get more of those angelic, juxtaposing female vocals rather than simply male. And that’s another really cool thing about how Low Hummer incorporate and assign all six band members. It’s no shock that this outfit has been rapidly gaining support from big radio DJs. And the festival slots keep coming, too!

Enter 8-bit synth funk on ‘Sometimes I Wish’. It’s like the soundtrack to a super-old-school video game and I’ve got bags of time for its catchiness. Those keys and notes are all part of the rhythmic grooves that have been packed into ‘The Real Thing’, which immediately follows on nicely. Of course, the mystifyingly enchanting ‘Human Behaviour’ remains a glowing example of what Low Hummer can do, despite all these new tracks being such rippers. Primarily here for the guitars? They’re pumped into ‘Tell You What’ in spades, so it’s very much got those staple, blistering rock ’n’ roll ingredients. 

At eighth position, chronologically, ‘Slow One’ is a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin jam, where the vocals operate in a relay race fashion between male and female counterparts on the verses. And, as you’ll have guessed before you even play it, it’s far slower and more drawn out than its sister tracks. Then finally, ‘The People, This Place’ is a frantic, drama-stuffed indie anthem that nods to the issues of social isolation, manipulation and even alienation, all kneaded together as though it had come from Parquet Courts. 

All in all, this observational album is a cracking debut. It’s evident that they’ve spent a silly number of hours with producer Matt Peel at The Nave studio in Leeds, to lay down a snapshot of their lives. Low Hummer haven’t been afraid to strip back tracks and add new elements to them, and their experimentation has paid off. These ten tunes couldn’t be better constructed.

If you only download one track, let it be: ‘Never Enough’

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Image credit: Low Hummer via Hanglands

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