Review Summary: The Higher are "On Fire." It seems as though they couldn't go wrong with this new blend of R&B, Pop, and Rock that will put you in a trance of dancing and wanting to break stuff. You will wake up out of this "dance trance" wondering why all your stuff is
Well, my good friend recently got a job at Graywhale. Graywhale is a record store that gets a lot of customers that belong to either the indie or emo music scenes. As a perk for working at the job, every once in a while he gets new releases a few weeks before they come out. He was able to get his hands on a copy of On Fire about three weeks before it hit shelves on March 6th 2007. I heard a few of the songs including "Insurance?," "Weapons Wired," and the new mixes of "Histrionics," and "Rock My Body." What did I notice right off the bat from these? Bland? Boring? Too Poppy? Well, yes. "Histrionics" really disappointed me at first. After all, when you're making a NEW album, why include three songs from your previous release? I grew to know and love Histrionics, which was much more rock oriented and I was disappointed at first at the new R&B influenced sound they had developed.
Now don't get me wrong. That's how I felt AT FIRST, after only hearing four songs (well, really only two). So I recently got my tax return and thought, I might as well pick this album up and see if my original dislike would be justified in any way. I walked into Graywhale and didn't see it anywhere, so I turned around to walk out and the cashier asked me if I needed help finding anything. "Yeah, do you guys have The Higher's new album?" I asked. He walked me over to it and I reluctantly made the purchase. The sticker on the front said something about how their new sound is a blend of R&B, Pop, and Emo and that it was the perfect music for a dance party. I let out a little chuckle when I read this. I threw it into my CD player and my drive home from the record store was filled with head bobbing, dancing within my skin, and singing along to the songs that I knew already.
OK, I'll start the review already. Epitaph.com claims that The Higher were unsure about their sound just one year ago when they were touring to promote their four-month-old debut, Histrionics. Instead of calling it quits, they decided to take matters into their own hands and do what they wanted. If fans liked it, that's awesome; if not, well that would have to be allright. "We've always been fans of R&B and pop and I think as we got older we appreciate it more," says guitarist Tom about the band's motivation to incorporate more of those elements into their music.
The result is just what that sticker said it was. 'Insurance' 'Weapons Wired' and 'Darkpop' are some of the most heavily pop-influenced songs on the album. "Insurance?" starts out with a really poppy intro that could be music on a Sonic The Hedgehog game or something. That's how the verses sound as well, but the chorus is different. They use a powerful first guitar riff with some power chords under it that will make you want to break stuff. That's just how 'Weapons Wired' is except, 'Weapons Wired' has a very Latin feel too it with brass instruments in the intro and a spanish guitar. 'Darkpop' uses an echo/reverb effect on the guitars, but it's more drum-dominant. Either way, all three of these songs will get you pumped up; to the point where you'll feel like you can run through a brick wall or something.
The last two thirds of the album is very heavily R&B influenced. Songs like 'Can Anyone Really Love Young,' 'DARE,' '31 Floors,' and 'Our Movie Rules' sound like they could very easily be covers of Usher songs or something like that. '31 Floors' tends to be my favorite song of all these R&B sounding songs. I've always loved The Higher's R&B-sounding music. I've always thought that they can pull that sound off very well. Better than any other band I've heard. Seth's vocals scream R&B.
The rock-influenced songs are songs like 'Rock My Body,' 'Movement,' and 'Guts.' Even though these songs are more rock-influenced, you can definitely pick out the R&B and Pop sounds in them. 'Movement' sounds like a song that you could find on their debut release. High, screeching guitars over some heavy power chords with, for the most part, simple but effective drum riffs.
What's left to talk about but the redo's on this album. 'Histrionics,' 'Rock My Body,' and 'Pace Yourself' are all songs that you could find on both On Fire and Histrionics. So what's the difference? Well, it seems as though they just redid the vocals on 'Rock My Body' and 'Histrionics.' They took 'Rock My Body' and heavily edited it to make it fit in with the other dance party songs on this album. I tend to like the version of this song on Histrionics better than this one. This one lacks soul, but it's still good. They prettymuch did the same thing with 'Histrionics.' They also extended it. It's about thirty seconds longer than the original version. 'Pace Yourself' is a remix. It's exactly what you could expect from a bunch of R&B/Pop artists remixing a song. Computer drum riffs over heavilly effected and distorted vocals with some pretty catchy beats. There is also a secret song at the end of this one.
OK, I really like this album a lot. I think it's excellent. I don't think you have to be a fan of R&B to enjoy this song. So if you're like I was and want this album to sound like Histrionics, stop being silly and go pick this up. Don't feel like you won't be cool or you wont be "hard core" if you pick up an R&B/Pop influenced rock album. I love it. So if you like the stuff I've said about this album, go pick it up. You won't be disappointed.