So, the new High Places album, High Places vs. Mankind, came out on Tuesday.
To me, it is a disappointment.
I listened to High Places nearly every morning during the summer of 2009 on my bus ride to my campus job of delivering paper for printing services. If 03/07-09/07 and High Places can be described as morning bus rides when the sun is entering the sky through the cracks between the obstacles of the city horizon, then High Places vs. Mankind is the 3-month period of dull, sunless days that was this year's Iowa winter.
On previous albums, the noises and percussion of High Places bounced around the inside of your skull and kept the relatively short songs moving, as if the song were accompanying a sprint from the top of a mountain through an overgrown jungle and onto the long beach of some tropical island where the waves crash in slowly and everyone smiles and spins in circles all day as to not miss any of it. The lyrics varied from songs about trees and horticulture to songs about outer space.
The bouncing percussion and tropical noises still exist on High Places vs. Mankind but are often buried in repetitive guitars and somber lyrics that could represent the gray skies of boring days. The songs drag, the noises only bounce half as high, and the singing has replaced its youthful hopefulness with post-adolescent confusion and questioning.
If High Places were running just ahead of the storm clouds toward some lunar oasis in 03/07-09/07 and High Places then they have stopped to take a breathe as the storm caught up in High Places vs. Mankind.
You can listen to a few of their songs here:
In that link, you can hear the band at their best with From Stardust to Sentience, followed by a song showing where they are now with On Giving Up.