July 9, 2009

The High Strung
Ode to the Inverse of the Dude

Detroit, MI
Produced, recorded and mixed by David Newfield
at Stars and Suns

No band works harder or tours longer than Motor City’s High Strung. This isn’t a ham-handed usage either – they truly deserve the “hardest working artist” crown. The High Strung is a true work horse: touring no less than 300 days a year while artfully leaping forward on each album and oozing critical praise like upscale cuisine. Yet the band remains largely unrecognized (possibly because trio indie rock already had its day).

Produced by David Newfield (Broken Social Scene, Los Campensinos), Ode to the Inverse… maintains the band’s early urgent guitar strides and trademark fidgety vocals, with Newfield waving his wand and adding complex flourishes and a litany of instrumental innovation. Busy acoustic guitar strums, lyrical bass (in the tradition of Broken Social Scene), elegant synths and kaleidoscopic rhythm injects the once-reductionist indie rock trio into monolithic ensemble.

With “Standing at the Door of Self-Discovery,” the album begins ironically with a choir singing, “Standing at the door of self-discovery/Where the air is cold/the feelings are old/but you reconsider them” – a foretelling indication that something completely strange and new is about to happen. From there, the album wanders into a series of songs that explore vocal diversity, textural rhythm, experimental hooks and walls of sound. Singer Josh Malerman’s characteristic tone leads the charge, with quirkiness in check and reflective charm: “Give me one second where I’m out of character/Give me one moment where I’m not the same” (“Out of Character”).

Ode to the Inverse… sparkles with buoyant optimism and makes for a grand escape from throwback garage punk. This is the ambitious paradigm shift The High Strung has been itching for. The album has complexity and multidimensional interest that’ll give the most dubious indie rock fan a revision to their 2009 top 10 list. (Park the Van Records)
-Christopher Petro

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