Boomkat Product Review:
The arrival of this sophomore album from former Brooklyn scenesters (and current LA residents) High Places is cause for no small amount of celebration. The duo's eponymous debut showcased an impressively assured handle on minimalist pop and experimental beat-shaping, and this follow-up - housed in a sleeve depicting some wonderfully ectoplasmic looking cave algae - raises the stakes accordingly. It becomes apparent during opening track 'The Longest Shadows' that High Places have developed their sound considerably since last we heard from them, and here muted guitar riffs join with skittering drum beats for a piece of avant-disco that seems to marry the glo-fi dancefloor loveliness of Italians Do It Better with a more experimental, Animal Collective-styled approach to leftfield pop music. Mary Pearson's vocals are sublimely lovely here, harmonising waifishly during choruses whilst taking a pronounced and confident lead through the verses. It's a sound that works brilliantly over the first three tracks, until 'The Channon' momentarily steers the album into a more soundscaped, ambient direction, complete with watery, filtered samples and flickering tremolo chords. The tone here resides somewhere between Growing and Mountains, not sounding quite so severe as the former, yet not nearly so gentle and pastoral as the latter. Further highlights come with the dismantled pop-reggae of 'The Most Beautiful Name' and the storming ghost-techno of 'When It Comes', but then the album seldom dips from form - on Vs. Mankind, High Places are sounding like an increasingly impressive force. Excellent.