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Album Review: High Highs - Open Season

4 February 2013 | 4:26 pm | Jan Wisniewski

The folk-tinged Bridge is compelling through its short running time, while the more extravagant Love Is All is perhaps the pinnacle of the album.

The debut album from the Sir Elton John-approved Highs Highs begins with Dey, an instrumental introduction to the sounds of the Brooklyn (via Sydney) duo. The soft thud of the electronic percussion beneath a gorgeous piano track lays the path for the excellent production quality on what is a lovely-sounding album. The first taste of Jack Milas' vocals comes on Milan, majestically rising with the sensitive electronics of Oli Chang. Flowers Bloom, which first appeared on their 2011 self-titled EP, adds an understated bass line to the mix but follows much the same blueprint drafted on Milan.

By the time the title track rolls around the High Highs' formula is easy to recognise, Milas delicately singing over guitar or piano while Chang adds depth to the tracks with some background atmospherics before the song swells for an oft-wordless chorus. This makes for an attractive, well-measured 12 songs. The duo's penchant for subtly is admirable, refusing to take the easy route with the big chorus when the opportunity regularly presents itself. But what is lacking on Open Season is diversity in sound and emotional pull. As each track brushes by the beautiful production becomes less impressive and the sound less attractive, if only because it feels so familiar. The back half of the album begins to drag though the song quality remains strong.

On an individual level, out of the context of the album, any number of these songs could become personal favourites – especially those that add a slight twist to the formula. The folk-tinged Bridge is compelling through its short running time, while the more extravagant Love Is All is perhaps the pinnacle of the album.