The High Strung doesn’t exactly sound like an uptight rock band. High … probably. Girl problems … yeah, man, for sure. But that doesn’t seem to get this band down. At the end of the day, it seems a little sense of humor and a small but significant dose of hope keep THS from being totally strung out.
In its better moments, the High Strung sounds like Sloan and the Beatles smoking from a large hookah that’s been carefully packed by Stephen Malkmus. And although the High Strung takes untold cues from the Beatles, at least the group does it respectfully, humbly and sounding significantly better than Oasis, for instance.
Soap is what one might call “clean” psychedelic rock. The rhythms and melodies may occasionally stroll through some strawberry fields (“Wrecking Ball, Baby”), but the lyrics are entirely intelligible and noncryptic. A keen sense of metaphor mixed with witty irreverence keeps Soap worthy of multiple listens. Like most Sloan and Pavement albums, the Soap EP begs to be sung at the top of your lungs while alone in the car — the airbag being a snare and the steering column a high hat (“The Millionaire,” “What a Difference a Day Makes”).
A little less out there than Olivia Tremor Control or Elf Power (which is kind of a shame), the High Strung makes a good contribution to the ever-expanding “post-Beatles-on-drugs” sound with Soap. But Soap’s lather isn’t all there is to this band. The group has also recently released a limited-quantity double album, As Is, that doesn’t flow as cohesively as Soap, but showcases the band’s diversity with several acoustic tracks that create a more intimate space between band and listener.
Solid, cleansing and sometimes bubbly, Soap is recommended for folks who like their indie rock clean, but not antiseptic.
The High Strung performs at Lager House Friday, Jan. 25.
E-mail Robert Gorell at [email protected].