High Places are members of the Brooklyn class of ’08 (whose alumni also include Yeasayer, Telepathe and Gang Gang Dance) and as such, their early material was tinged with tropically informed rhythms, blasé vocals and hippie sentiments. That’s not to say it was bad, it just didn’t really stand out. In 2011, it sounds like Mary Pearson and Rob Barber have developed as songwriters, as their third release on Thrill Jockey sees them embracing more electronic influences. ‘Banksia’ combines a comedown vibe with retro techno beats and soft vocals, while ‘Sophia’ has a more minimalist, melancholic edge to it, with gently dropping bass pierced by clicking drums. There are moments when the vocals go a bit too ethereal (‘Sonora’) and the whole thing starts bordering on the lightweight, but overall, this is an intricately worked, atmospheric and sonically mature album.

By Matthias Scherer

More from