While it's not without merit, High marks a new low in
the long history of Welsh anthem rock. Justin Sullivan's
searing prose and bitter vocals are still intact, but the music
has lost much of its steam. There's a weird Pearl Jam 70's
rock vibe going on that supplants the usual folk-punk. We'll be
kind - it's dark and slow enough to count it as a nod to The
Often touching on Biblical matters, Sullivan's parables, delivery,
inflections and twisted lyrics - "I need an amnesiac priest"
- increasingly resemble Nick Cave. On pieces like the title
track he's developed a slight warm warble when the phrase turns
a corner. The approach is a dragged-tempo invoking the lazy country
rock of The Band. Peter Nelson offers rambling bass
walkups which, while respectable, feel like they want to support
The highlight "One of the Chosen" takes a tribal, though
not savage, stance with a caravan bass groove and gothically ethereal
guitar scrubbing. The semi-acoustic "Into The Wind"
hearkens more to the troubadour tradition we've come to expect
from Sullivan's solo work. The inclusion of ragged electric guitar
is actually a bit intrusive, but a gentle piano accent tempers
the offense. "Dawn" has the sort of stiff silliness
of David Byrne once-removed.
Missing is the soaring release of "White Coats.". The
builds never quite draw you in like "Green & Grey."
The catchy singalongs like "Stupid Questions" are absent.
High is alright, but for such desperate times its awfully
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