There’s nothing like the end of the year creeping to a close to put pressure on one to finally get something done that has been in the works for a long time but just hasn’t seemed to come to fruition for whatever reason. The average music listener oftentimes disregards that musicians are people too, in the way that they have real lives, i.e. families and children and in the case of bands that don’t make a whole living off of playing music, having full-time jobs. In the case of Tübingen, Germany pop rock quartet Humphrey Cobra all these aforementioned happenings ring true.
The band formed up in 2007 while at university, wrote songs and played shows. They put out their first record, Fabric, in 2009. But then their lives took their courses and playing music in a band was no longer as easy as it had been. But fast forward now nine years later and Humphrey Cobra have finally released their follow-up From Shape To Substance, an apt title for these eleven songs which the band have been working on slowly for years.
From Shape to Substance opens with the har- hitting pop-rock glam-dance “Storm Warning” a straight up dueling guitar rock assault with punchy drums thick bass lines reminiscent of bands like Editors, Interpol and Franz Ferdinand. They take a poppier punk stance next on the Clash inspired “Reconstructive,” a bouncy and eclectic piece of pop punk new wave brilliance. This new wave takes on a bit more balladry on the more subdued rocker turned experimental electronic rocker “Not The Same At All” which sounds like a well-rehearsed second radio single if I’ve ever heard one. They turn up the heat and the Franz Ferdinand once again on the head bobbing dance rocker “Not the Same at All,” which bleeds into the similar sounding but equally powerful “The Body, The Picture.” At this point I think that if Humphrey Cobra had been around at the height of the new wave dance rock craze they could have scored themselves a few radio friendly hits.
Later on the stadium powered rocker “Ghostground” they gave me a sense of early Weezer mixed with Scottish rock superstars The Twilight Sad. The sad part here to me that I was finally able to comprehend that the time for this style of music seems to have perhaps come and gone from the mainstream. But then I listened to “End Times are Near” a beautifully spastic cry from the mountain full of taut bass lines and delicious interludes that recalled the power of bands like Hüsker Dü in the very far away past and Queens of the Stone Age in the more recent past.
To me when all was said and done From Shape to Substance sounded like a record unearthed from the past, albeit an album that holds up to its more popular peers but went undiscovered for reasons unknown. Now all these years later From Shape to Substance deserves its due, no matter how “un-frozen caveman” it may sound.
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