AU ABROAD

Album Review: High Highs - Open Season (2013 LP)

Sydney duo Jack Milas and Oli Chang move to Brooklyn, then release their highly anticipated debut album Open Season whilst they tour Australia for St Jerome’s Laneway festival, before heading back to the States to play more shows. I predict a massive year for High Highs, a blissfully melodic, indie super duo, and it's only February!

The ambient sounds and melodic progression though Open Season is set to make this the perfect summer record. Opening instrumental track “Dey”, provides a taste of what’s to come on the album's 40-minute journey. It sets the scene for an experimental, harmonious, classical indie spun ride. “Dey” has quite the moving forward feel to it.

In “Milan”, the guitar lightly picks through sparkling notes putting forth the feel of a dream sequence. The vocals are light and disjointed for this melancholic song, building into layers of harmonies through to the chorus. Military style druming builds up towards the end, leaving you wanting more.

The crunching of leaves or the raw crackling sound of vinyl creates the mood for “Flowers Bloom”. It almost feels like the second part of the story to “Milan”, especially through the chorus sections, this time with the addition of a little more power and rawness.

“White Water” is more stripped back in the way of effects, guitar and vocals. This song is something very special; one of my favourites on this album. The way High Highs use dynamics throughout the whole album is something to be admired, as most artists strive for it, yet fall slightly off. Milas and Chang have it down to a perfected art.

Self-titled track number five, “Open Season”, is the perfect indie summer hit of the album. Like “White Water”, the effects are stripped back with the guitar becoming the driving force to the tune. The vocals stay strong and forward, now and then touching on the light airy tones of the head voice.

“Bridge” and “Phone Call” slowly ease us back into that dreamy place where “In A Dream” is set. Choir samples hold elongated notes as the bass of the song, and sparse guitar rings through, leading into an almost upbeat pop feel for the chorus. The lows of the verse and highs of the chorus make “In A Dream” stand out from the rest. The chorus lyrics "If you would believe me, if you would stay awhile" dance through your ears.

“Once around the house”, “Love is all” and “Slow it down” take us to the final track on this magical ride of an album, “Pines”. It is minimalistic, the repetitive theme on guitar fitting perfectly, as the on-the-beat feel of the vocals, adds harmonies and gang vocals, as the song progresses. Which seems to be the signature sound for the High Highs. There is also a special moment when the keyboard takes the melody, breathtaking.

At the end of this album I wanted more, but at the same time I was almost satisfied. This is an extremely strong debut album from the boys. Open Season is an extraordinarily beautiful ride, and is a listening must if chilled experimental indie is your vibe.

Review Score: 9.0 out of 10