When I first caught the High Highs at SXSW 2011, I wasn’t sure what to make of them. Their music is the accompaniment of a chilly winter evening. It doesn’t reach out for connection, in fact, the haunting, distant vocals and melancholy lyrics seem to push the listener away. This sacred stillness, however, is what makes the High Highs so utterly compelling.
The Aussie duo may fall into the classification of dreamy, indie pop, but the synth trimmings and electronic echoes, coupled with intimate acoustic guitars, elevate them into a category of their own. Lithe, alluring, and even expansive at times, the High Highs will wrap you in their tendrils without permission or warning. I’ll be honest, I agree with how The Guardian put it, they write “lullabies with bite.”
Out of the four tracks on their upcoming self-titled EP, “Horses” is perhaps the brightest in sound. At 26 seconds into the song, the opening guitar chords split from gentle strumming to subtle (but rich) layers like a bird taking flight. The guitar picking leaps into a higher key and dances throughout the song as delicate and pristine as falling snow, an impression only enhanced by entrance of Zach Lipkins’ airy vocals.
If someone ever asks me to music supervise a film version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen (which I really hope happens, it’s a great story) I will have the High Highs on the ready.