The Golden Hum
For Remy Zero‘s much-anticipated follow-up to the crestfallen memoir Villa Elaine to materialize, it took 1,300 days — a time that saw the band change labels, saw them deal with the first round of celebrity-cultism and recoil deep into one another, saw them further reinforce their mystique, which is based on that something we all want but rarely possess: an appreciation of the moment. The result is the beautifully profound The Golden Hum.
“Hum seems like looking through the opposite side of the telescope from Villa Elaine, but still at the same 20 square miles of dry insanity called L.A.,” says guitarist Shelby Tate. “It’s more bizarre and surreal, though most people will think it more sane,” singer Cinjun Tate amplifies. “It‘s all smiles, light, beautiful things and a little pain.”
Producer Jack Joseph Puig masterfully extracted the richest components from Villa Elaine — the fragility of Cinjun’s voice and the idea of divinity through pure imperfection (musically speaking) — and centered everything on them. Puig, called “a gentle tyrant” by drummer Greg Slay and “psychopathic, but a great guy” by Cinjun, pinpointed the essence of Remy Zero‘s urge to drift, and structured it into a masterful collection of self-assertive, eternally philosophical songs.
“I’m Not Afraid,” “Smile” and the hit single “Save Me” cling to airs of the most naked vulnerability, delivered through the absolute longing in Cinjun‘s voice. “Over the Rails,” which, Shelby explains, “tries to find vast heroism in quitting drugs,” turns on the aggression that made Villa Elaine’s “Prophecy” stand out, while “OutIn” is the unheralded gem; the wearier “Bitter” and “Glorious #1,” both written by Shelby, balance the rest of the album‘s darker-edged symbolisms.
The early comparisons to Radiohead and REM that shadowed Remy Zero were flattering. But The Golden Hum transcends those comparisons, realizes all that “potential.” “TGH was all about ultimate liberation,” says Slay, “finding out the things that have haunted us, birthing out the ghosts.” It’s also the embodiment of everything missing in rock music today, a triumph of spirit over ego reminiscent of another band that helped Elektra Records break on through way back in the late 1960s.