The Higher – Histrionics (CD)

The Higher – Histrionics / 2005 Fiddler Records / 14 Tracks / / / Reviewed 12 April 2005

Brother, I was not expecting “Diaries” to come from a band that had released an album with this cover – shallow, I know but the music to be found on “Histrionics” is a brand of emo-rock that situates itself between Brand New and Hawthorne Heights. What is fun with The Higher are the incredibly common use of claps as a form of percussion, making its present on the first few tracks on “histrionics”. The artificial blips and boops that are on the title track provide a direct contrast with and show off the acoustics on the track. Seth’s vocalist draw from the Movie Life and Brookside tradition, that is to lie completely over the music on each track and wow the audience with eir sultry but clear style of singing. The rest of the band is not sub-par even if they do spend some time behind Seth’s shadow, as the sizzling guitar solo during “Rock My Body” should indicate to all listeners. The use of vocal shifting in a real band (instead of people like Hilary Duff, Britney Spears, and Cher) really takes guts to do, and The Higher’s gambit pays off in a major way, closing “Rock My Body” with the prelude to “Prepare For Something Else”.

The dual-harmonics found on “Prepare For Something Else” are a little Spartan, but then the band goes flip-mode with the extremely chaotic and intense instrumentation to delight listener’s ears in two distinct and different ways. Moving back to a traditional formula with “In The Set”, that is with Seth’s vocals driving the track as the guitars noodle around The Higher really show their virtuosity in a diverse array of styles all broadly grouped underneath the broad-ranging “emo” tag. What makes me sad about The Higher’s all-in, audience-heavy chorus in “In The Set” is that, in the numerous concerts I’ve attended that the live rendition of the audience participation has never worked.

The strung-out, carefully-enunciated vocals on “Gone With The Guillotine” is another gambit that The higher makes; like those in the World Series of Poker, they have succeeded yet again in wresting the valuable scene chips from stingy listeners. The Higher have one thing going for them that is sadly deficient in the dime-a-dozen bands that are still trying to milk the largely-dead carcass of “emo” music: they have made their solid sound extend throughout the entire disc, instead of blowing their wad in the first few tracks (The Chemistry) or putting sub-par tracks on disc (A Static Lullaby).

Top Tracks: Lo, Histrionics

Rating: 7.1/10

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