Remember when Napoleon Dynamite and Deb Bradshaw awkwardly dance to Asheville’s “Forever Young” at the prom in Napoleon Dynamite? As they dance, leaving room for the holy spirit, the stereo reaches the pinnacle of ’80s slow jam, shrouding the dance floor in hazy romanticism. Superhumanoids is a band who could easily sway Napoleon’s thrift shop threads, or even throw his MoonBoots for a loop with more upbeat jams.
The bursting foundations of Exhibitionists, the band’s debut album, weave together palm-muted guitar tracks, heavy reverb, and a plethora of synth modes. “Too Young for Love” combines these all to create a dense base of instrumentation — and the most contagious moment of the record. Such warm tones allow the lyrics of being lost in love to feel upbeat.
Superhumanoids maintains this same appeal even when lowering the energy levels. “Bad Weather” is decorated by Sarah Chernoff’s explorative vocal line and harmonizing synth pulses as the track’s climax nears. As Chernoff and Cameron Parkins intertwine vocal lines, beauty glows through the surface, a passionate connection behind every lyric.
This simple formula allows Superhumanoids to create a strong first impression, but they don’t take it much farther. Most songs end right around the three-minute mark, failing to dare farther than the verse-chorus-verse song sequence. Parkins encounters similar stagnancy with his vocal performance, the same demeanor delivered every track. “Seeing It All” stands in stark contrast to the catchy ’80s flair of Exhibitionists’ first half, featuring a minimal bass line and monotone vocal steps that quickly become stale.
While closer “Do You Feel That” confesses to be “[confined] beyond control”, these duller moments can be conquered. Superhumanoids have the talent to breach their simple formula, but they often cut their best ideas too short. That’s a thought to whack a tether ball at.
Essential Tracks: “Too Young for Love”, “Bad Weather”