Canadian indie-electronic duo, HUMANS, just released their new EP, The Feels, in January 2018.
Here is my dos/don’ts listening guide for their new EP.
DO: Listen to the EP from top to bottom.
If you’re paying attention at the end of the first track, The Feels, the beat fades flawlessly into the next track, Sip It. Keeping the essential pulse steady at the end of The Feels, all the different instruments and running lines suddenly fade away and we begin hearing new additions, like what sounds to me like a person panting on the song’s backbeats. This clever conceptual album approach is well thought out and contributes to the EP’s overall story. I think that it is crucial for us to just turn off the world and focus on music when listening to it, instead of just letting it run in the background. It takes only twenty minutes to listen to the album from top to bottom. I think it’s twenty minutes well spent.
DON’T: Settle for a lame or cheap pair of headphones when listening.
The tracks on this EP are layered thick with different catchy themes, melodies, rhythms and hooks. I could never get attached to a certain instrument or synthesizer sound because within a few seconds, it would subtly change again. The EP’s title track, The Feels, begins with a naked and simple drum beat. Slowly, they begin to dress it up with bassy interjections and electronic noise. A bass line comes in next, and the piece builds up higher and louder, taking us right along with it. With a subpar pair of headphones, some of these little details can easily be overlooked. An added bonus: the stereo sound moving from one earbud to the other at the end of The Feels creates another almost spatial dimension of the music. Good headphones? Necessary.
DO: Give HUMANS’ 360-degree virtual reality and animation videos a spin.
This technology is truly cutting-edge and also just insanely cool. I love that the cinematography of the VR video and the animation just bring another degree of visual artistry and creativity to the table. This 360-degree virtual reality video for The Feels turns from an edgy account of a man walking to a warehouse to a full-blown horror movie and as my friends would say…going from zero to one hundred real quick. The animation for Boys & Girls is just as cool. Made by HUMANS member Peter Ricq, it’s refreshing: they’re giving you something other than your typical music video.
DO: Add these songs to your workout playlist!
All four tracks on the EP have a characteristic driving pulse, urging the music forward and dragging you along with, ready or not. However, in Boys & Girls, this pulse comes with a compelling backbeat and a funky melodic loop loyally running in the background, bringing an eclectic and vivacious energy to the sound. You’ll have trouble not dancing along to their captivating rhythms, just like in this music video for Sip It, where anyone from baton twirlers to party-goers are able to dance along to their captivating rhythms. In Feels Good, HUMANS reimagine Sip It with a more instrumental focus, pushing us forward with catchy, almost-techno beats. The upbeat charm of HUMANS’ music is irresistible, making this a fool-proof addition to your workout playlist.
DON’T: Go on autopilot when listening to the music.
With electronic music, I find it really easy to just tune out whatever I’m listening to and let it fade into the background noise already going in my head. It’s trancelike characteristics make it even easier to do so than with regular music. But don’t. You will miss the little nuances, the changing melodic lines in the music, the beautiful lyrics. The message of Sip It, “tear me apart but I can’t stop sipping on you,” feels to me like a toxic love story, one that most of us can identify with. When we love something or someone that we know is bad for us, we just try to take as much as we can at a time, a little sip here or there. We can’t stop. Little bite-sized themes present themselves in the music, allowing us to sip on little snippets of music too.
DO: Allow the music to transport you elsewhere.
HUMANS do a fantastic job at creating dense, elegant and captivating soundscapes that can transport you to another place, another time, another dimension. These soundscapes evolve and change as the instrumentation and musical ideas do. Honor the unwritten contract between listener and musician and trust them with your imagination, letting the music guide you to wherever it chooses. That is the only way to listen to this EP.