Review: Venus Hum – Mechanics and Mathematics

On a few occasions this year we have feared the worst from high profile electronic releases – sometimes irrationally – and been delightfully surprised. This as the result of a series of underwhelming releases from many of Softsynth’s favourite acts including Shiny Toy Guns, She Wants Revenge, Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Apoptygma Berzerk, and Goldfrapp, not to mention troubling advance buzz around some of these follow-ups.

And yet IAMX, Imogen Heap, Dragonette and now Venus Hum, to name just a few, have delivered awesome new discs this year causing us to at first to breathe easier, and later to revel in the quality material these bands continue to produce.

Mechanics & Mathematics is such a marked improvement on their last album, The Colours in the Wheel it’s like night and day. The previous album was a big step down from the breathtaking Big Beautiful Sky – more languid, lazier, breezier, less urgent – and it suffered by comparison. But now the Nashville trio have blessed us with a fun, kicky album that does some gorgeous things with electronics.

The lovely Annette Strean is in wonderful voice here. Only a few years removed from vocal problems that threatened to derail her singing career, her voice once again soars, dips, and purrs better than it ever has. It’s a powerful, captivating instrument, even when the songs drag a bit (which really only happens for part of “Organic”).

But the real star of this album is the songwriting. There’s an energy here we haven’t seen from Venus Hum before. A power one doesn’t necessarily associate with such a “nice” band who are known for their pleasant pop melodies. And it’s beyond refreshing.

The title track alone is a treat. “The Magic Between Us” just trots along, the synths working like a tuneful metronome; “Bryan Sometimes” could have easily been on an Erasure album during their 80’s peak; “Get Out of the Way” is blips and bleeps and an unrelenting beat that defy you not to move along to it. True, songs like “Fireman” seem a little random down to its slightly grating repeated chorus of “need to find myself a fireman…” but the sounds generated and the melody achieved, the velvet purr of Strean’s voice make even these lesser tracks work.

The album is wonderfully retro in much of its feel from the old fashioned synth lines to the Heaven 17-esque cover art and it’s a welcome blast from the past. That’s not to everyone’s taste but when done well with a modern sensibility mixed in it’s pretty awesome.

At only ten tracks Mechanics & Mathematics may feel a little slight and it’s hard to find at the time of this writing (not available in iTunes as yet, get it at Amazon only if you are in the US and waiting for a hard copy in your local record store, forget it; we got ours straight through the Venus Hum website and it seems the only place to land a copy outside the US) but the reward is getting to listen to this gem of a record. The Hum are back with a vengeance and it couldn’t be sweeter…


3 Responses to “Review: Venus Hum – Mechanics and Mathematics”

  1. Greg Greene Says:

    Mechanics & Mathematics is a thoroughly enjoyable album. Your review didn’t mention the haunting “Tell Me Secrets”, a terrific tune. “Magic Between Us” is addictive, righteously dark, and catchy. I hope Venus Hum doesn’t take 4 years to follow up this album.

  2. Hello Softsynth,
    Pardon the contact thru comments, but I couldn’t locate an email link.

    I am doing PR for Venus Hum for the live DVD for Mechanic & Mathematics. Would you be interested in an advanced review copy? Please email me at the above address if you would like one. I’m happy to send it out to you! Thanks!
    Laura Smith
    Publicist for Venus Hum

  3. softsynth Says:

    Replied via email…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: