Monday, July 12, 2010

Urgency EP - Superhumanoids

Urgency EP

Hit City U.S.A.

SCQ Rating: 76%

For a band that reportedly takes inspiration from Kate Bush and The Postal Service (perhaps making them the one-billionth to do so), Superhumanoids boast a sound that is both inviting and inventive. Although the latter muse's Give Up requires no comment, it’s difficult to overlook the trend that every Postal Service-borrowing band since seems to value style well before songwriting. In a market where Owl City can make a fortune on Gibbard and Tamborello’s coattails, maybe that strategy makes sense, but Superhumanoids clearly want little to do with that kind of cash-in mimicry. Urgency EP could make a blender blush with its ability to mix and conceal varied organic and electronic sounds but its focus resides in the power of good songcraft.

Whether the Los Angeles-based four-piece occupy the domain of Krautrock (as on ‘Cranial Contest’) or girl-group swan-songs (‘Contemporary Individual’), Superhumanoids are as likely to own their style-jumping risks as convincingly as they’re capable of shifting them mid-song. That Krautrock workout gathers a glistening surf-guitar vibe before morphing into a groove-based love-song while their girl-group’s coos take on a reverb-ridden humidity last felt during a high school gymnasium-dance in the 80s. The band seems most at home (and most likely to be found after their gentle genre-hops) with post-punk, which propels the minimal-synths of ‘Simple Severin’ and ‘Persona’, although they never sound stretched by any of their material’s transformations.

As shape-shifting as these compositions sound on paper, Urgency EP’s genius is camouflaged so well it nearly feels conservative. And I suppose it is, in respect to its way-too-short eighteen-minute run-time but a subtle reason for the EP’s easy digestion can be pinpointed to vocalists Cameron and Sarah, who croon boy/girl harmonies so slyly, they stand to fall from the cliff of their synth-y atmospheres. Spaced out and muddled at the same time, Urgency EP presents a quartet capable of merging four distinct tastes into something refreshingly new. What... you didn't expect depth from a band called Superhumanoids? I made the same mistake.

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