Highland Kites is Marissa Lamar and Neil Briggs. Together they are a slow burning, melodic duo rife with dark themes and sweet sounds.

Lamar, the mastermind behind the project, began using music as her catharsis for overcoming a near fatal and prolonged bout with Lyme disease early in her life. Teaming up with Briggs in 2014 along with producer Raymond Richards, the band debuted to solid local fame. Originally from the Los Angeles area, Highland Kites has steadily built up a devoted purist fan base. They offer the soundscape a genuine and pure look at how you can transform your pain into beauty.

Their new EP, Let Me Run, is due out on July 23rd. A small work of five songs, I got an early look at the ethereally beautiful album. With a simple sound, the duo come together easily. Lamar fronts the band, clocking in as singer-songwriter plus keys and guitar, with Briggs hunkering down on drums.

Their LA-origin is apparent right off the bat with “Plastic Towns,” the first track. Lamar plays a mean slide guitar, harkening summer days at the beach under the sun. A common motif throughout Highland Kites’ works is the use of twisted lyrics over seemingly playful riffs and rhythms. Lamar uses her struggle to provide a mad decent canvas upon which the band paints their sound. As Lamar professes: “Stop pouring your heart out, you’re bleeding inside.” A message to all those bleeding hearts out there dying to be heard, take note.

In “Freckles,” Lamar shows off her folk chops, soothing the listener with a mellow vibe. When Briggs tunes in on background harmonies, the band feels much bigger than they actually are. The end result is a gorgeous melody that is entirely entrancing.

“This War Inside” features a fascinating journey through Lamar’s troubles and laments. Following Briggs’ hypnotizing drum beat, the listener is pulled into the quirky darkness that Lamar is trying to purge from herself.

The last two tracks, “Humiliated” and “Let Me Run” both feature energetic, melancholy melodies full of apt guitar and drums. Not eloquent but better: honest. Highland Kites is not a band that is pretending to be anything other than themselves. Taking a full year after their previous EP All We Left Behind, Highland Kites is finally ready to take the stage again.

When Highland Kites decide they want to do something, they take their time and do it well. I encourage anyone inspired by this article to check out and purchase their EP for $5 when it drops on 7/23. They are performing a show in LA after the EP’s release in order to fund their next tour, so if you want to catch them on the road, put your money where your mouth is.