Exhibitionists by Superhumanoids

Exhibitionists by Superhumanoids

 

Following a few hard years of mustering sizable indie support, Los Angeles-based Superhumanoids are finally out with their first LP, debuting a set of decidedly retrospective electronic tracks which recall The Human League with their conversational (and often dichotomized) mix of mellow tunes. Though not terribly original or complex, Exhibitionists has its inspired moments, and there is a beauty in contrasts to several tracks.

 

TRACKLIST:
#1. Black Widow 2:59
#2. Geri 2:23
#3. Canteen 3:36
#4. So Strange 3:13
#5. Too Young For Love 3:50
#6. A Gjost 3:06
#7. Free State 2:37
#8. Bad Weather 4:12
#9. See It All 3:29
#10. Do You Feel That? 4:43

 

PERSONNEL:
Cameron Parkins: Vocals, Guitars
Sarah Chernoff: Vocals, Keyboards, Synths
Max St. John: Samplers, Bass, Loops

 

PRODUCER:
Superhumanoids

 

DATE OF RELEASE:
6th August, 2013

 

SINGLES:
Geri
Black Widow

 

The inconsistencies are apparent from the get-go, and the opener Black Widow is classic filler material, way too slow and monotonic to qualify as a single. The refreshingly brusque Geri however, is in another league entirely: a quick dose of latent bitterness in former relationships hardly ever backfires, and the contrasting duality of perspectives is rendered with good aplomb by the dreampop trio.

 

Oh yeah, these guys revel in the contrasts. Appropriately, male vocalist Cameron Parker’s personality is night and day when it comes to singing vs. talking. On interviews, he comes across as a generally affable, if slightly talkative hipster sans wit or charm. But the album portrays him as reserved and withdrawn – celibate even, judging by the sarcastic Canteen. Smart choice, using his lower registers with offhand confidence rather than his often hesitant, nasal speaking voice.

 

Sarah Chernoff is not a naturally talented singer either, but does well to keep things simple, choosing to focus on form and function instead of shooting for false emotion. But most conveniently, her drawn out delivery (Too Young For Love) meshes quite well with Parker’s clipped tones: perfect for an album replete with cynical observations and jaded sentiments.

 

But those highlights aren’t enough to offset the low-on-ideas, derivative nature of the vacant middle section. Indeed, A Gjost is loaded with so many influences from Cassius to Beck to The Cure that you’ll find the exercise of picking out the various callbacks more enjoyable than actually listening to it. Others, like Free State try to make the most out of minimalist electro arrangements, but lack a definitive hook or distinct identity.

 

That being said, some tangents stick better than others. Try the cute little R ‘n B twist on Bad Weather, where the laid back production and sparse lyrics legitimately lend it some of that old-school vibe. It’s also a convenient – if rather late – takeoff point for the record to finally find its place. Steeped in the 80s pop tradition, See It All successfully combines the yearning of U2’s With Or Without You with the creepy resentment in The Police hit Every Breath You Take.

 

Exhibitionists is too staid and plain to turn many new heads or take the electropop world by storm, but also just a few commercial endorsements away from landing a potential crossover hit. In the meantime, Superhumanoids would do well to start thinking more creatively and not shy away from experimentation.

 

 

 

 

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