The Higher â€“ Histrionics / 2005 Fiddler Records / 14 Tracks / http://www.thehigher.com / http://www.fiddlerrecords.com / Reviewed 12 April 2005
Brother, I was not expecting â€œDiariesâ€ to come from a band that had released an album with this cover â€“ shallow, I know but the music to be found on â€œHistrionicsâ€ 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 â€œhistrionicsâ€. The artificial blips and boops that are on the title track provide a direct contrast with and show off the acoustics on the track. Sethâ€™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 Sethâ€™s shadow, as the sizzling guitar solo during â€œRock My Bodyâ€ 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 Higherâ€™s gambit pays off in a major way, closing â€œRock My Bodyâ€ with the prelude to â€œPrepare For Something Elseâ€.
The dual-harmonics found on â€œPrepare For Something Elseâ€ are a little Spartan, but then the band goes flip-mode with the extremely chaotic and intense instrumentation to delight listenerâ€™s ears in two distinct and different ways. Moving back to a traditional formula with â€œIn The Setâ€, that is with Sethâ€™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 â€œemoâ€ tag. What makes me sad about The Higherâ€™s all-in, audience-heavy chorus in â€œIn The Setâ€ is that, in the numerous concerts Iâ€™ve attended that the live rendition of the audience participation has never worked.
The strung-out, carefully-enunciated vocals on â€œGone With The Guillotineâ€ 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 â€œemoâ€ 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