Low Hum Rides Neo Psych Rock Wave With ‘Room To Breathe’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Psychedelic rock has enjoyed its fair share of resurgences in the last few decades, but few as significant as the steadily growing wave of washed out guitar music that’s dominated the post-2010 indie scene. Perhaps the sense of detachment from reality synonymous with the genre rings particularly true in the current day and age, or there’s a cyclic nostalgia for the unabandoned optimism that came with 60’s peace movement. Or perhaps everyone’s suddenly on LSD again. Who knows? But Tame Impala and their army of catalysts, co-conspirators and copycats are the staple of most of what constitutes rock these days. Amidst this noise comes Low Hum. Appropriately named, the project of Hawaiian born multi-instrumentalist Collin Desha remains in the background, but still undeniably hard to ignore. With his second release Room to Breathe, following last year’s breakthrough self-titled EP, he celebrates the foundations of psychedelic rock with a series of solid and sincere tracks.

Complete with its pop-art cover depiction of beachside beauty, Room to Breathe makes its psych-roots intentions clear from the outset, opening with a thick wah-wah guitar riff brimming with funk, that eases into the hazy and washed out verses of ‘Fake Reality’. “We get so lost in conversation, I fall off into a dream”, Desha sings in the beautifully constructed track. Linked together with that lingering riff, but scattered into myriad segments, it takes on the form of his dream and works as the album in a nutshell. ‘Strange Love’ is another early highlight with its rippling bassline and relentless momentum while the spaced out tidal chords of ‘I Don’t Know Me Like You Do’ provide a perfect backdrop of that classic float-away sound. Simplicity is on Desha’s mind, the title track seeing him lament the screen-filled avalanche of information we face in daily life where echo-chambers are deafening and “algorithms keep deciding.” “I just want some, I just need some, you know you make me take some room to breathe”, is the desperate but somehow comforting chorus. Not anything groundbreaking, but true nonetheless and thus full of meaning.

From the thick and fuzzed out riffage of ‘Nebraska’ to the slightly off-kilter discord of ‘Sun Chaser’ and lush synths of closer ‘Comatose’ with its X-File inflections and hypnotic lead outro, Room to Breathe has the complete package of what psychedelia should be. But anyone can put together those sounds and leap into that particular fray, calling themselves a peddler of nostalgia. Having played all the instruments bar drums himself, it’s clear Desha has poured over the production of his debut and how it fits together, the sincerity of the songwriting ultimately shining through. Far more than just a series of 60s sounds, the effects work to enhance the songs he writes and ultimately elevate that record as a complete package. It’s a difficult thing to stand out within a genre that is virtually ubiquitous in the modern world of rock, despite its classic roots, and Low Hum can’t quite boast doing that either with Room to Breathe. But there’s an underlying sense that’s not necessarily a disappointment. These are songs made with love and honesty, the fact they’re out there perhaps enough for Desha, and that can often be enough within the clamor. You could do far worse than spend an evening on the beach with Low Hum in your ears, the ocean in the background and the worries of modern life pushed away for just a short while.

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