We're still reeling from the fact that Hum -- entirely out of nowhere and with no advance warning -- dropped their first new album in 22 years, Inlet, on Bandcamp. (Physical copies are coming out August 31 via Polyvinyl, a label which has been killing it lately, as usual.) The band have been playing reunion shows for a few years now, but they mostly kept talk of new music under wraps, so this album is truly a "surprise release" in more ways than one.

It's clear from just one listen to the album that the whole thing is great. It immediately feels like it's on the level of the band's '90s classics like You'd Prefer An Astronaut and Downward Is Heavenward, and it's unmistakably the work of the band who made those albums, but it feels fresh and modern. Hum's blend of shoegaze, space rock, alternative rock, emo, metal, and post-hardcore has become so influential on modern music that "sounds like Hum" is now frequently used as shorthand to describe a whole slew of current bands, and as good as many of those bands are, Inlet shows 'em how it's done. We'll write more about the album after we take it in some more, but meanwhile, one track that's already emerging as a clear standout is "Step Into You."

It's powered by a punchy, addictive alt-rock guitar riff, and it just gets better from there. Matt Talbott comes in with a vocal delivery that's just as catchy as the riff before making a slight left turn and evolving into a soaring, shoegazy chorus. It's trademark Hum, but in case Hum is a band you aren't familiar with, I'd also add that this one in particular sounds like a glistening, modern-day fusion of Dinosaur Jr, Torche, and My Bloody Valentine. There are some sprawling tracks on this record that are worth all the patience they demand, but "Step Into You" finds Hum channelling the same kind of immediacy they had on their '90s hit "Stars." If alternative rock songs still became hits today, "Step Into You" could be one.

UPDATE: Read our full album review.