Listenability. When a band has a live show, a degree of expertise on instruments, spot-on harmonies, a tangible sense of camaraderie and proficient songwriters what can be added. AS HIGHS found out when they set to work with producer Luke Smith what can be added is listenability.
In essence its really what the song will sound like in someone else’s ears. A quick chat with HIGHS Doug Haynes and Joel Harrower prior to their recent gig at the Moustache Club in Oshawa revealed this gem of an approach.
Smith has worked in the past with Foals and Depeche Mode and he was chap HIGHS had requested to work with. Well if you don’t ask you don’t get and sometimes you get what you ask for.
When you go work with a big time rock n roll producer in a real pro studio one imagines it is like a trip to a musician’s Toys R Us. One great effect after another to play with, buttons, and switches and faders but in this case Smith had other ideas, the right idea it turns out.
HIGHS doesn’t need adorment. They have that, they have their sound, their musicality, their interests and experiments, they have a sense of themselves already. They are a band, they give great live, they absorb influences and meld them into something one can call HIGHS.
Smith did not adorn them, quite the opposite, he stripped them down to the skivvys of their songs. He hung them out to dry, they shrank further, they got small and when they were just threads of a song he gave them back.
HIGHS then on Dazzle Camouflage are unadorned. The dazzle is all smoke and light. The dazzle is all stage play and stage act and stage coaching. There is no camouflage, it would be a distraction. Therein lies the rub as the Bard of Avon’s neighbour said, therein lies their truth.
The trick is not in the light but in the song and these are songs, at their very bestest core they are songs. At their very centre the HIGHS have play and performance and harmony and tweaks and hooks and trickery and pop-of-the-day but they also have very very listenable songs that hold up again and again and again.