Highasakite were a band I discovered in probably the best possible scenario for experiencing their music—the opening slot for Of Monsters and Men at an outdoor amphitheater show. As twilight descended upon Columbus, I was enthralled by the ethereal atmospheric pop swirling around me from onstage.
Fast forward to today. Besides hoping I can book Highasakite for Steadfast Festival someday, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this album. Officially, I remember hearing they were changing to a duo, and I wondered if it would negatively impact their sound. “Hiroshima” and “Since Last Wednesday” remain my favorite tracks from them.
Lead single “I Call Bullshit,” upon its announcement, made me wonder if they were changing their sound. Could a song with such an in-your-face title remain dreamy and transcendent? The answer is yes. It’s an interesting take on addressing conflict when you think about it. The aura of the song is one of confidence and optimism—almost as if to say “well, of course this thing is dumb! But we’ll get through it; it’s alright!”
In all seriousness though, there are some seriously poignant moments on this record. My favorite track is probably “Hail of Bullets.” I always love me some synthesizer, and when that melody kicks in after the chorus it’s all chills on my end. The subtle build-up makes the payoff all the more effective. I used to hate power ballads as a kid, because they made me emotional. I’m glad I grew out of that.
The chorus in “Out of Order” is memorable for similar reasons—you can hear the emotion in the vocals. That track is pretty raw and minimal, using instruments sparingly yet effectively to really make sure you feel all the feels when appropriate. It’s important to note, however, that no moment really feels indulgent. It also sounds like singer Ingrid Havik is harmonizing with herself—a studio trick that can be indulgent or poignant. Here it’s the latter.
Overall, on this record there seems to be somewhat of a stripping back to the essentials—more focus on vocals and melody. It isn’t quite as all-encompassing as I remember from previous records. This is kind of refreshing, though. The record begins tentatively with “Too Early,” and the title track near the end is a simple acoustic-driven track with the occasional warbling effect dropped in; you know, to remind you that even with the steps in new directions, you’re still listening to Highasakite.
I’ll close this review by saying I really wish they would gain more traction here in the US. Their sound is too huge.