Author’s note: Apologies for the long absence. Occasionally, that thing called grad school demands my attention. Also, as of late, I’ve become obsessed with the Olympics. Remedies for my case of Phelps fever, which has now developed into Phelps pneumonia, are welcome. Thank you, Bob Costas. I’ll try to post more regularly.
Driven beats with silky smooth vocals dominate Uh Huh Her’s new album, Common Reaction. The first track, “Not a Love Song,” is an excellent lead-off for a solid electro/pop/rock album. The song captures the seemingly contrasted atmosphere of the entire album—determined, upbeat songs laced with languid yearning. “Not a Love Song” begins with a fairly standard electric guitar intro that is quickly overlaid with almost angelic vocals. The chorus kicks in without apologies. Several layers of guitars and keyboards create an ethereal atmosphere tied down by an unrelenting, solid drum beat. Although the beat isn’t terribly innovative, it serves the purpose of sharpening the meter’s focus. “Not a Love Song” is probably the album’s best song, and the band chose it for a music video, complete with unicorn.
Other notable tracks on the album are “Explode,” “Say So,” and “Covered.” I love the vocal harmonies in each. The previously released “Say So” features a new breakdown section that duly builds anticipation for the final section of the song. I must note that usually, I pay little or no attention to lyrics as I focus on the drums or rhythms in the song. As a result, I don’t know the lyrics to any song except Happy Birthday, and parts of the National Anthem. For example, recently, I was in the emergency room, trying to distract one of my friends from her affliction, and I flubbed my way through “I’m a little teapot.” She had to correct me on the lyrics halfway through, and told me I should stick to singing the alphabet. For some reason, I actually paid attention to some of the lyrics of “Say So,” and the beginning tugged at my heart just a bit. Trite as the feelings may be, they made me smile.
Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey head up Uh Huh Her, a fairly new electro/pop/rock band. They cover most of the guitar, keyboard, synth and bass tracks in addition to writing all of the songs. Have I mentioned how much I love a female bassist? Rhythm sections are typically dominated by men, especially in rock, so to see two front women, one of whom is a capable bass player, is pretty awesome.
Uh Huh Her definitely has a characteristic sound, which could be a detriment if they become pigeon-holed. However, each time I listen to the album and think a few of songs sound too similar (particularly in the second half), I notice an unexpected but entirely pleasant turn in the rhythm of vocals or another super catchy hook. Although the songs don’t demand it, I would appreciate more interesting drum beats to accompany the gliding compositions. Overall, a solid album, and I look forward to hearing where they go with their music.