Think I skipped one in the middle, but the new High Places Vs. Mankind is significantly sleeker and more accomplished than the singles Thrill Jockey released on CD a couple of years ago. I even heard a little hint of Madonna…but still liked the record a whole bunch.
Here’s my review, up at Blurt a few days ago (who can keep up?)
High Places dials down the eccentricity in their second full-length, finding a very sweet spot where experimental freak folk meets top 40 diva pop. High Places Vs. Mankind is delivered in much sharper focus than the duo's earlier output, tethered to stronger, more lucid beats. Yet it still has a dreamy surreality, a lullaby softness in Mary Pearson's voice that sounds at once as if it is right next to your ear and, also, distantly inscrutable. "The Longest Shadows," opening the disc, is mostly ramshackle rhythm, fitted out with little blurts of keyboard and an eerie synthetic melody. Pearson's self-harmonies are intoxicating, warm syrup dripping over partner Rob Barber's glossy, chilly electro arrangements. "On Giving Up" has even more of a new wave, disco feel, its plasticine keyboards evoking the Cure, its insistent cadences strobe-lit and glamorous.
“On Giving Up”