Album cover High Places vs. Mankind - High Places
High Places vs. MankindHigh Places7/10

High Places - High Places vs. Mankind

20 Mar 2010 macron1

Having read somewhere that High Places have relocated from Hawaii to Moscow in terms of their sound, there was some apprehension on listening to High Places vs. Mankind, the second long player from the L.A. [via Brooklyn] duo of Mary Pearson (vocals) and Rob Barber (other). Sadly, the first single from the album "On Giving Up" initially brought to mind some kind of unholy union involving Ladyhawke having a baby with High Places, so much removed was it in sound from the "traditional" High Places jam, which tends to sound something like the theme from Super Mario having a baby with (SOMETHING WONDERFUL), and so tropical besides.

Happily, these thoughts and these feelings and this track were more an anomaly when put in the context of the entire album and the awesomeness of some of the other tracks. Prime example is "The Longest Shadows", a lengthy affair that begins, uncharacteristically for High Places with an admittedly mild straight-up guitar riff, before traipsing into a surreal, almost orchestral-feeling electronic reverie tangent midway through, before switching right back to the riffage set out in the intro. The use of, for want of a better term, more obvious instrumentation sets High Places vs. Mankind apart from their earlier efforts, bringing forward what would on earlier records possibly be heard as heavily treated samples, producing something that is recognisably "High Places" but at the same time new and not. Pearson's voices is still saccharine, if a little matured from previous works where you were sometimes wondering if she really in to this whole singing thing.

Thus, the initial disappointment on listening to High Places vs. Mankind is short lived, and it is an album that grows on every listen. Any initial misgivings must be put down to the usual callow urge to want artists to just release "more of the same," rather than explore new musical vistas, and it is the latter of which High Places vs. Mankind has in spades.

Sardless Tracks

  • The Longest Shadows

Track Listing

  1. The Longest Shadows
  2. On Giving Up
  3. Shes A Wild Horse
  4. The Channon
  5. Canada
  6. Constant Winter
  7. On A Hill In A Bed On A Road In A House
  8. Drift Slayer
  9. The Most Beautiful Name
  10. When It Comes