You’d Prefer an Astronaut


Band: Hum
Album: You’d Prefer an Astronaut
Best song: “Stars” is a great song, “I’d Like Your Hair Long” is awesome and “I Hate It Too” is amazing.
Worst song: “Songs of Farewell and Departure” and “Why I Like the Robins” are both relatively weak.

Because of the band’s roots in Urbana-Champaign, Hum was considered emo for a time. The main campus of the University of Illinois spawned several impressive bands from the all-familiar genre — Braid, Sarge, etc. — as well as many other fantastic bands (Poster Children, Dianogah, etc.). Because of the size of the town, these bands played together a lot.

All that said, Hum was one of the bands that got me into indie rock. Hum’s minor hit “Stars” was one of the bridges into college music of my junior high and early high school years. From Hum, I went into the Urbana-Champaign route and saw bands like the Promise Ring open up for Hum when I was in high school.

A lot of the press about Hum’s record sorta misses the point of the record and often will compare the record (example: Allmusic’s review) to the Smashing Pumpkin’s first two records. It’s not a completely ridiculous comparison, as the spacey guitar work is not totally different than that of those records. But, mostly, the records are not all that similar.

Indeed, You’d Prefer an Astronaut doesn’t touch on the ridiculous self-hatred and ridiculousness that the Smashing Pumpkins’ records do. Rather, lyrically, the Hum record is filled with fantastically reflective and modest (in a good way!), as “I’d Like Your Hair Long” kicks around a simple love song.

The guitar work that defines the record, though, is the slow burn of the slower songs. “Stars” is a midtempo rocker while the far slower “I Hate It, Too” both work the anticipation angle as well as the best post-whatever music out there. Long and drawn-out, the record holds up because it uses this method.

It’s not a typical UIUC record, but it’s a great record nonetheless.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted July 12, 2010 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    This was my favorite album for years. Like you, it helped get me into Champaign scene (Castor!) and then beyond thanks to Parasol Mail Order. That Smashing Pumpkins comparison always felt a bit lazy to me.

    I’d put “Little Dipper” in the best song pile and limit the worst song candidates to “The Very Old Man,” which I end up skipping most of the time.

  2. Posted April 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Check out a podcast review of You’d Prefer An Astronaut by Hum on Dig Me Out at digmeoutpodcast.com, a weekly podcast dedicated to revisiting lost and forgotten rock of the 1990s.

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