From EP to Album: What can we expect from HIGHS?

The central image of Highs’ music video for “Mango” is of a girl joyfully jumping up and down on her bed, and this couldn’t be a more fitting scene. It’s hard to listen to Highs’ music without imagining the whole band bouncing around enthusiastically as they play.

A wave of positivity has hit the young Canadian band ever since its formation in 2012. What started out as a one-man show recording demos in his bedroom has now grown into an energetic five piece band. The positive reviews only increased after the release of their first EP in the summer of 2013, and it is no surprise there’s already an album in the making. Bright, dense and upbeat, every song on their self-titled EP sports a cluster of catchy guitar riffs and restless afro-beat inspired drum patterns in which the drummer, Kevin Ledlow, seems to hit every part of his set except the actual drums themselves. What’s more, Doug’s and Karrie’s spot on harmonized singing makes it hard to get the songs out of your head. All six songs on the EP are uplifting and satisfying right from the first listen.

Highs’ music has numerously been compared to that of Vampire Weekend. This is a hard act to follow to say the least, but I would like to hold off on properly comparing the two bands until I’ve heard what their full length album has to offer. It would be great to see their songs become a bit more diverse. The tracks on the EP all sound great, but their similarity in tone and structure easily make them melt into one. I’ve listened to the EP quite a few times now, and I still have difficulty pinning the right song name to the right guitar riff.

Judging from a fairly recent promotional video on YouTube, some more diversity is exactly what we will be getting from the upcoming album: “The EP is pretty positive all of the time, but we wanted to include (…) some more emotionally heavy stuff; a whole different realm of human emotion we hadn’t explored on the EP.” I am a bit of a skeptic, however, seeing as they also say that this supposed ‘new realm of emotion’ will mainly stem from the lyrics as opposed to the sound of the songs themselves. I’m all for having some darker tinted lyrics, but if the music remains this upbeat, it won’t have much of an impact on how we experience the songs emotionally.

Still, I can’t help but be enthusiastic. I could definitely do with some more of Highs’ positive catchiness, and if anything we can be sure that this is what they will deliver: “When you hear [the album], you’ll think: ‘That’s a Highs record for sure’.”