HIGHS - Dazzle Camouflage
Released April 8, 2016
By Morgan Berna
I Do, Do You? calmly fades the album in with Doug Haynes’ vocals, and backing choral accompaniment. It quickly builds into an incredibly catchy pop single, with female vocals joining in, guitar and drums picking up and very singable lyrics. HIGHS has always impressed by not having overly repetitive lyrics, something that can be a recurring issue with alt/synth-pop music. With I Do, Do You? you are immediately transported to summer, blasting the single while having a drink with friends on the deck. It’s a strong start to the album.
Immediately afterward Closetalkers comes on, and is quickly a favourite. It kicks off with this incredible tropical beat that sounds like something Real Estate would write, with very smooth lyrics and great harmonies. HIGHS definitely knows how to write a catchy song. Haynes has such a soothing voice, it’s both calm and incredibly varied in tone. His ability to sing slightly higher than average suits their style of music perfectly.
Gabriel (blind boy) starts off a lot darker and calmer than the previous tracks, but as the beats kick in the sound is immediately full of depth. The lyrics sound innocent and peaceful. There is a good use of space between verses, containing a certain level of patience that pulls you through the track smoothly.
Handsome Man brings in elements of We Are the City in the disctinct vocal style. Again, this track is a little slower and has a darker vibe to it. It’s very dragged and forceful, while staying cool and ambient.
The beat begins to drive back up as Careful fades in. There is no shortage of harmonies, tropical beats or punchy drums. However, it doesn’t quite match the intensity of the beginning of the album, and doesn’t transcend into the melodic aspect of the previous few tracks, so it can be a bit forgettable. That being said, it is nice to have a slightly different style track on the album and having this variety will definitely capture the attention of more audiences.
So Sad, Never Mad doesn't grab you right away, but stick with it and you'll see the rock influence it draws from. The vocals are deeper, the beat is stressful; there is something so uneasy, yet satisfying about it.
Acting Strange is a another pop highlight for its disco vibe and lead female lead vocals that immediately set it apart. It's another easy single off the album, and likely to be a crowd favourite. It’s so funky and danceable, bringing Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac to mind.
Finally, Gold Teeth closes the album with melancholic harmonies. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like a very strong end to an album that started so strong, but it isn't bad. HIGHS has got the potential to be an incredibly popular alt-pop band and go places quickly, but being able to maintain the intensity of the beginning of their album throughout would definitely help grab, and maintain, audience attention until the last track.
Overall, this album does showcase the incredible talent of this band in both instrumentation and vocals, and it wouldn’t be surprising if we were hearing some of these tracks on our favourite radio stations in the near future. We loved it guys, can’t wait to see what comes next. (Now - put this album on your summer playlist everyone.)