Choice Cuts: Hum – You’d Prefer An Astronaut

The ‘90s spawned many ‘one hit wonder’ bands, and there are plenty of cases where you could argue that some bands really did only have one good song. When it comes Hum, while they may be known for their 1995 single and rock radio favourite, Stars, but there is so much more to them. Their third album, You’d Prefer An Astronaut from the same is an alt-rock classic that didn’t get the recognition it deserved at the time.

Combining the fuzz and melody of bands like Weezer and Harvey Danger with a pre-Deftones wall of huge spread chords and post-grunge cacophony, Hum created a unique sound. Much like some of their contemporaries at the time, such as Failure, had they released this album 2 years earlier they may have received wider critical acclaim.

By 1995, with CD’s being marketed as the superior format and vinyl was almost circling the drain, not to mention we were in post-Nirvana territory and alt-rock wasn’t the flavour of the month anymore, fewer copies of You’d Prefer An Astronaut were pressed. With less people catching on to the genius of Hum, the demand wasn’t there for it.

In the US it was pressed by Twelve Inch Records/Cargo Music on black vinyl and an even harder to find green variant which has sold upwards of £250 for truly mint copies. The UK release followed in 1996 on beloved indie label, Dedicated, which also changes hands for around £100.

Hum have maintained a cult status over the years, often name checked by bands that have been influenced by primary songwriter Matt Talbot’s incendiary guitar tone. After a successful reunion in 2015 there’s talk of a new album in the future, and fans are eagerly awaiting the next transmission from the best band you’ve probably never heard.

This article appeared in issue 37 of Long Live Vinyl magazine, available now.

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