“Subway Song,” the second single from California duo My Little Hum, travels above the bustling city of New York with indie-pop vibrancy. As songwriter Yuri Jewett gazes down from a crowded raised-track subway car in the Bronx, she admires the city and its hidden gems. “Subway Song” imagines the possible connections between people riding the subway who will probably never see each other again once they leave the train. Haunting vocal countermelodies illuminate the break as the song dances to the vivacious hum of the big city. The main guitar line weaves in and out with an urgent urgent staccato as Yuri delivers her signature line about standing in someone else’s shoes. Robert Vickers’ (The Incredible Vickers Brothers, Orange Peels) adds a driving beat that builds tension until Dan’s melodic guitar part and bassline glide in like a train leaving the station.
The album’s genesis occurred when Yuri was selected to join an urban design master’s program in New York City. This meant the husband-and-wife team would be living on separate coasts for a while. Yuri wrote lyrics touching on themes related to her new urban environs including the stunning “November in New York,” a slice of Gotham that she penciled on the roof of the Spitzer School of Architecture between her studio classes, while Dan sketched out guitar tracks in their Oakland home studio and fed the cat. Yuri also found NYC inspiration in other forms of daily life, like shuffling back and forth on the 1 subway train (“Subway Song”) and observing young students from all over the world break new ground in urban design and social change (“Terra Firma”). Soon the music duo realized that the pioneering go-getter-types they were writing about were everywhere: from the memories of the couple’s very own recently-departed but trend-setting fathers (“One of a Kind”, “Runway Lights”) to the industriousness of the worker bees that reside in the couple’s backyard hives (“Don’t Build It Alone”); even the band’s version of a 1980s hit by Christopher Cross plays into the desire to explore unknown places (“Sailing”). Rising to new levels of self-assuredness on their second album, Dan and Yuri infused Pioneer with a new level of joyous musical and lyrical confidence, which is evident in every track.