Ambiance and atmospherics are nothing new in indie rock. In fact, they’ve become major cogs in the indie/alternative machine. While many may argue overabundance degrades authenticity and integrity, I’m hard pressed to agree—at least in this instance. Instead, here, within the genre, it seems that saturation has carved a more rigid standard. While many artists stumble to reach, raise, and recreate this bar, Sydney, Australia’s indie rock duo, High Highs, showcase a dreamy, lucid sound with a sharpness and confidence that’s sure to please listeners.
Though you may be unfamiliar with the name, odds are you’ve at least sampled High Highs’ ethereal sounds. The duo has been featured in everything from Amazon Kindle commercials to the 2012 film, Pitch Perfect—all while making a name for themselves within the national scene.
Before we go any further, it’s imperative to understand one thing: High Highs don’t reinvent the wheel; however, that doesn’t really seem to be their objective. Instead, the duo utilizes airy instrumentation—including reverb-laden guitars, fluid pianos, melodic synthesizers, and grounding percussion—to create well balanced ensembles that are equal parts indie rock, folk, and pop rock.
While this combination doesn’t suggest any new elements to the genre at large, Jack Milas and Oli Chang are magnetic in the way they utilize subject lyricism. The two never stray from the heavy or dense subject matters and themes. Instead, they embrace them with a lightness that is most welcome. The result is a track that’s light without being a throw away.
High Highs are a great representation of the genre at this time. Though a lot of artists and bands are gunning for similar sounds, few execute it with the precision and skill of this Sydney two-piece.
Article by Michael Ventimiglia