New band of the day – No 839: Superhumanoids

Combing the electronic with the organic, these slippery characters recall several bands – often within the same song

Hometown: Los Angeles.

The lineup: Sarah Chernoff, Cameron Parkins, Max St John and Evan Weinerman.

The background: Every band strives to be unclassifiable, but Superhumanoids seem to have managed it. They are a band, that's for sure. Then it gets a little hazy. Not that they're madly experimental or anything, they just don't stick to a particular style. They definitely belong in the "indie" part of the record store (if there are still any left), but you'd struggle to know where exactly to place them, apart from under "S", in between Superchunk and Supergrass, although they sound nothing like either of those bands.

These slippery characters only got together last year and they like to combine the electronic with the organic, mixing new-fangled programming with good old-fashioned instrument-bashing. Their favourite acts include Neu!, the Beach Boys, the Strokes, the Chills, and Kate Bush, but we can't really hear their influence on Superhumanoids' debut EP, which they produced themselves. They don't really do, as you'd imagine from that list, post-Velvets krautrock surf-pop with eccentric female vocals, but they do recall several bands, often within the same song.

They're either really confident, or they're not doing this for a living, because the LA four-piece have posted a lot of their music on MySpace. And it's all pretty good. Hey Big Bang is rhythmic without being out-and-out funky, the female singer cooing like Clare Grogan of Altered Images doing an impression of Morrissey, or vice versa. Cranial Contest introduces frontman Parkins, who is also distinctly Morrissey-esque – his baritone voice has been compared to that of a phone-sex worker, although we'd say it's less libidinal. We can imagine him moaning, but about life rather than with pleasure. Meanwhile, the band approximate the slick sound made by Talking Heads when they stopped being the most inventive white funk band on the planet and (d)evolved into a straight pop group.

Like the Heads, this lot are a bit on the cerebral side, and a lot of thought has clearly gone into what they do, starting with the titles. Contemporary Individual, for example, which marks another departure, the scratches and crackles suggesting a glitch-pop Smiths, or a more ragged Prefab Sprout. Persona is more conventionally rock'n'roll, with Parkins's vocal becoming a yodel as the music gets louder and more aggressive yet melodic, which is impressive. On Simple Severin, they seem like a different band altogether, more streamlined and synthetic, with hints of motorik in the insistent rhythm, so we'll give them that Neu! reference after all. Dangerous Strangers is different again. It reminds us of Altered Images circa Bite. We appreciate that hardly anybody has heard the first two Altered Images albums, let alone the obscure third one where the post-punk Banshees suddenly transmogrified into Blondie, but take it from us, it was a goodie, and it's also good(ie) to hear it reprised so well by these Superhumanoids.

The buzz: "It's hard to pinpoint the right definition to describe how truly mind-blowing this band is" – I Promote Good Bands.

The truth: It's hard to pinpoint, period, with this lot.

Most likely to: Talk big bang theories.

Least likely to: Hold big bang sex parties.

What to buy: The Urgency EP is released on 30 August by Oh! Inverted World.

File next to: The Smiths, Prefab Sprout, Talking Heads, Altered Images.


Tomorrow's new band: J Cole.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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