Never before has Billy Joel, Eddie Vedder, and Björk seemed so logical a musical match than on “Metropolis,” the first song on National Skyline. Hum’s Jeff Dimspey perfects a dreamy Vedder/Thom Yorke lull over a drum beat reminiscent of Joel’s “Traveling Prayer,” igniting a soothing, trance-like tune like Björk’s “Hyperballad.” It’s the best cut of the seven on the album, so good that it overshadows a collection of hauntingly warped and soothingly aggressive songs that beg for their own attention.
Essentially, Dimpsey and company create a short record that recalls the best efforts of solid ‘80s performers in the ‘90s. Think Zooropa-era U2 (the scathing and melodic “Tropical Depression”), and Us-like Peter Gabriel (“L’Nuh”). The songs here have the same craftsmanship and malaise, yet succeed just as well as coming across positively. There are even hints of Radiohead seeping throughout, like on the closing “Kandles.” Dimspey’s intensely evocative and drawn-out vocals mirror Yorke’s own falsetto cry. At it’s best, National Skyline breathlessly transcends a time-stamp in lieu of spacey electro-pop like “Air” and “Karolina;” at it’s worst, it’s the most appealing sound waves available whenever it’s playing.
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// Notes from the Road
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