[CHAMELEONIC COUTURE] To listen to Sam Humans' first full-length album no longer under the Modernstate moniker is to cruise rather pleasantly through a lifetime of influential touchstones: the travel-brochure gloss of Rusted Root ("Wee See Colors"), the melodrama of Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug leavened by Beck's wry deadpan ("Steam"), the gnarled math jams of Tortoise ("Put Right Yr Mind"), the gothy post-punk of Interpol (album standout "Golden Eagle"), the weirdo folk pastiche of Devendra Banhart ("Let the Trees"), and the molten Americana of Will Oldham ("Love Is a Spring"). Sonic signposts immediately emerge like mile markers, not so much shades of other bands as definitive directions toward whatever sound Sam Humans wants Soulboss to claim. All of it stews together into something undoubtedly impressive—fascinating, even. But as Sam Humans makes his way through one genre after another, the excitement of the musician's technical prowess and his ability to inhabit the skin of seemingly any psych- or dance-flecked favorite begins to lose shape. One sees why he's a guitarist and percussionist in the cumbia orchestra Orquestra Pacifico Tropical—the guy can probably play anything—just as one starts to wish a unique voice would break free from the fray to give the whole album some real focus.
SEE IT: Sam Humans plays the Know, 2026 NE Alberta St., 503-473-8729, with LKNPF and Eagle Sun King, on Tuesday, June 7. 8 pm. Call venue for ticket information. 21+.