You don’t need to send for Sherlock Holmes to discern the resemblance between the sound of Hum and the overpowering buzz-pop of the Poster Children. The bands come from the same town (Champaign, Illinois), Hum bassist Jeff Dimpsey played guitar on the Poster Children’s Daisy Chain Reaction; they’ve toured together; Hum’s first two albums were released on the Kids’ indie label.
Dimpsey (who also plays in Honcho Overload — a more straight-rock band that includes Hum singer/guitarist Matt Talbott and had their album produced by power-popper Adam Schmitt) wasn’t in the lineup that made Fillet Show, but he joined in time for the second album, as did guitarist Tim Lash, finalizing a quartet with drummer Bryan St. Pere. Produced in Chicago by Brad Wood, Electra 2000 is bracingly loud but generically obvious in its attack: simple melodies kicked along with a brisk backbeat and covered in sizzling sensual guitar aggression. Turning down does wonders for “Double Dip,” but the inoffensive Hum is really just one of a hundred bands that want to be the next Superchunk. (For the obligatory incongruous exception, the unlisted bonus track, which follows “Winder,” is a jaunty if endless organ instrumental.)
A couple of items on You’d Prefer an Astronaut cut the speed in half and double the distortion, thereby shifting archetypes towards a mid-Atlantic Dinosaur Jr. The rest redefine the group’s basic sound with greater dynamic variety, spaciousness and understatement, as well as much-improved songwriting. Too much quiet doesn’t suit the group, either (see “Why I Like the Robins,” “I Hate It Too” and the Schmitt-produced “The Very Old Man”), but “Stars” and “Suicide Machine” make excellent use of noise’s allure, and “I’d Like Your Hair Long” is a roaring tune that works. More misses than hits, but a step in the right direction.