As alluring and serene as their songs might sound, there is still a rather haunted quality to the music of High Places that quietly seeps into the fuggy subconscious, a kind of distanced delirium that heightens our awareness of Rob Barber and Mary Pearson’s gorgeously textured lullabies. Their latest collection of electronic pop collages, High Places vs. Mankind, further flesh out the luxuriant homemade sounds they have been tooling up to on their formative singles and self-titled 2008 debut. “On Giving Up” pounces in with an anticipatory vigor and quickly shakes off their past reticence. Pearson’s sputnik sweetheart vocals are now pushed to the fore and backed by more robust instrumentations, a dense sonic bustle of beats and sampled loops wading through the shadows in slow-drip momentum. If High Places vs. Mankind is indeed an object lesson in careening through this duo’s newfangled sounds and inspirations – more rainclouds of guitar aftereffects, darker lyrical themes, etc – then “On Giving Up” may well be one of the album’s more immediate tracks to first pull you into the moody undertow. – keith.
High Places vs. Mankind is on tap for release this month on Thrill Jockey.