On “Old News”, their third EP in as many years, Winnipeg power trio Humous have continued to refine their distortion-drenched sound — maintaining their trademark raw, lo-fi energy while stepping things up in terms of tighter songwriting and more versatile playing. The improvement is most notable in the band’s guitar sound, which was mainly textural on the first two releases, creating space for Humous’ driving rhythm section.
On “Old News”, the guitar takes the forefront, from the ’90s-inspired riffing of opener ‘Loose Ends’, through the blistering solos on ‘Tragic’ and the laser-sharp leads of ‘What If’ and “Vigilance”. Despite the increased guitar presence, the best Humous songs have always been based around a hard-to-define, unique groove — with tracks like ‘Pop Tarts’ anchored by an almost stuttered interplay between bass and drums.
While some bands would play ‘through’ the beat, Humous has an almost mechanical rhythmic adherence to it — a crispness that illuminates the guitar and vocals and allows the lyrics, which have more directness and urgency than on previous releases, to shine through.
“Old News” is a pandemic record, and while COVID-19 isn’t explicitly referenced in the songs, references to being locked in, freedom, and life and death permeate. Album closer ‘Woke’, easily the most socially conscious track in the band’s repertoire, even slows the vocals down almost to a spoken-word level to ensure the message — one of moving forward through struggle — is clear.
Similarly, thought-provoking lyrics show up throughout the record, notably on “Crossfire”, a pensive mid-tempo track that urges the listener to consider “there’s more to life than just consuming and die”. Since the band’s inception in 2013, Humous has continued to champion a deliberately lo-fi aesthetic, and while “Old News” certainly retains that vibe, it also signals an exciting development in their sound, that will continue to be fully realized in the months and years to come.