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Album Review: High Highs - Open Season

5 February 2013 | 10:05 am | Brendan Telford

Unfortunately, Open Season is ethereal beauty, but beyond the surface lies vacuousness without the hooks and character necessary to sustain further listens.

Sydney-via-Brooklyn duo High Highs have crafted a sound on debut album Open Season that will become synonymous with variations of the theme dreamy. Opening instrumental Dey floats along, an enigmatic, delicate precursor to what is an album attempting to craft its own sonic world. The first track with vocals, Milan, is a song designed to uplift, to tug at the emotions, and mostly succeeds. This segues nicely into the sonorous Flowers Bloom, which builds in shimmering intensity in the chorus before becoming subdued in the verses, an undulating wave of gauzy production and echoing oohs and ohs. Next the brooding White Water takes over, acoustic guitars underpinned by those soaring vocals and awash with the crashing of cymbals.

Open Season is a beautifully rendered record, with a lush sound pervading the 12 tracks on display. Yet this continuity does at times render certain tracks superfluous – the aforementioned White Water sounds like everything else, its overcompensation of cymbals notwithstanding; meanwhile the title track and Bridge, while becoming more upbeat folk versions of what's come before, are almost indistinguishable – one would have sufficed, let alone having them side by side.

Moreover, High Highs have achieved a “sound” for Open Season, but haven't imbued it with enough personality for it to truly resonate. In A Dream succeeds in stirring emotions, but only in the cathartic chorus – the rest melds into the background. Unfortunately, Open Season is ethereal beauty, but beyond the surface lies vacuousness without the hooks and character necessary to sustain further listens.