High Highs High Highs
One thing about High Highs: They’re in no rush. The Brooklyn-via-Sydney group released the first single from this debut EP in November 2010, which means in Tumblr years, they’ve been around long enough to have had grandchildren and reserve that nice maple coffin. Yet the delay’s only increased demand, landing them a licensing deal with Sir Elton John. For the most part, High Highs was worth the wait. The trio plays soft-spoken atmospheric folk that draws largely on Radiohead and Grizzly Bear, so much so that it’s as if High Highs caught those groups’ 2008 tour and started the band the next week. “Ivy” borrows Radiohead’s “Worrywort” verse melody, while “Horses” gallops with Daniel Rossen’s monstrous high-neck chord shapes. There are, of course, worse influences to have, and these tracks feel less derivative than they do reverential.
Throughout, singer-songwriter Jack Milas’ voice—a breathy, multi-tracked instrument—makes for an effectively melancholy ghost choir, while Oli Chang’s subtle keyboards add both a low end and a digital edge. Opener “Flowers Bloom,” a lush ballad that shelves the acoustic guitars in favor of crackling percussion and a bassline that throbs like a resting heartbeat, hints at what the band might become. It’s not quite electronic, not quite folk, but when Milas’ voice ascends into its wordless chorus, it’s completely stunning.