Review of You’d Prefer an Astronaut
by James Paci, Form V
2 min. read — April 16, 2021
Hum’s album You’d Prefer an Astronaut is probably one of the best rock albums of all time; however, few people have ever heard of it, or the Champaign, Illinois-based band behind it.
Released on April 11th, 1995, You’d Prefer an Astronaut is the third album out of Hum’s current five. Three of its songs were released as singles: “The Pod,” “I’d Like Your Hair Long,” and its most popular single (the band’s most popular song), “Stars”. The album straddles the sonic gap between metal bands like Deftones (who themselves were inspired by Hum), psychedelic-sounding alternative rock bands like Smashing Pumpkins, and fuzzier-sounding bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Weezer. Guitarists Matt Talbot and Andy Switzky use an array of effects to produce a mixture of all these different sounds that are awesome and unforgettable.
Songs like “Stars” and “The Pod” feature thick-sounding, distorted guitars, pierced by thunderous drums. The album’s opening song “Little Dipper” almost explodes with spacey, fuzzy-sounding riffs, with an outro which is cut off by “The Pod” and its beautiful, reverse-delayed intro riff. “The Pod” ends with the electric guitars fading out, replaced by an acoustic outro. This is calming after the chaotic sound with which it begins. Songs like “I Hate It Too” and “Stars” may start off calm and quiet, but they turn to heavier sounds and pounding drums eventually. “The Very Old Man,” with its calm, mesmerizing sound never giving way, is a welcome break from the screaming drums and loud guitars.
However, it is not without its faults. Even though almost every one of the nine songs on the album is near perfect, the closing song, “Songs of Farewell and Departure,” is certainly a weak link. Additionally, some songs are too lengthy. Despite this, the high points of the album are all the way up in geosynchronous orbit, and the low points are at least on mountain tops.
Despite being relatively unknown, Hum has produced some of the best alternative rock in the universe
I wholeheartedly recommend listening to You’d Prefer an Astronaut, as well as Hum’s latest album Inlet, which released in July of 2020 and was the band’s first new material in decades. Despite being relatively unknown, Hum has produced some of the best alternative rock in the universe, and it should be a prosecutable offense to never listen to them.