High Dials – Anthems for Doomed Youth

January 01, 1970

(Rainbow Quartz)




Soft, swirling
guitar pop wafts out of this fourth full-length, and only occasionally gains
force, as the Montrealean psych rock outfit makes melodic, low-key nods to
1960s mainstays like the Kinks, the Who and the Left Banke. Songwriter Trevor
Anderson, who also sings and plays guitar, tends towards glancingly pretty
melodies, the kinds of tunes that seem to float and billow in a faint sort of
breeze. His band puts a certain amount of flesh on these ephemeries, with Max
Hebert pushing even dreamy “Uruguay”
forward and scrambling Moon-like, all over the kit, on fractious “I Was, You
Were.”  Shane Watt and Eric Dougherty
split bass duties, building momentum and structure under sun-dappled reveries. And
guitarist Robbie McArthur strikes the power chords that give catchy “Teenage
Love Made Me Insane” and anthemic “I’m Over You (I Hope It’s True)” their


The best songs here
are the rough ones, the ones where rock band hijinks upend the too-pretty
serenity that this band can meander into. “I’m Over You (I Hope It’s True)” has
just the right amount of drive and friction, bolstering a tuneful, wryly funny
chorus with aggression. “Uruguay,” coming next, is lovely but motionless,
slipping by in a pleasant haze without ever sinking its hooks in. “I Was, You
Were,” has no such problem, though, bristling as it does with raucous guitar
riffs and rough-voiced harmonies. And, “Mysterio,” the most untethered and
freakiest of these (mostly) well-behaved songs, shows what could happen if the
High Dials ever really cut loose. Here the harmonies are still high, soft and
sad, the melodies curling into folk-ish symmetries, but late in the cut, the
two guitar players face off in a duel, raining chiming notes down on one
another like blows, as the drummer pounds and pummels. Writing pretty songs is
a fine skill. Writing them, letting them glow for a minute, then demolishing
them to bits is even finer, and a lot more interesting.


DOWNLOAD: “I’m Over You (I Hope It’s True)”, “I Was, You
Were,” “Mysterio” JENNIFER KELLY



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