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Articles and thoughts by Peter Holslin

High Places, “High Places vs. Mankind” (Thrill Jockey; 2010)

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High Places
High Places vs. Mankind
(Thrill Jockey)
*8.5*
Goes well with: Gang Gang Dance, Boards of Canada, Happy Band of Japan

It’s telling that my copy of High Places’ 2008 self-titled debut was automatically labeled “Children’s Music” on iTunes. Rob Barber’s inventive beats and glossy samples had the luster of new toys. Mary Pearson’s reverb-coated vocals and poetic lyrics seemed wonderfully naïve. The whole album felt as soft as a down comforter.

On High Places vs. Mankind, the Brooklyn duo’s second album, they’re just as childlike—aside from Barber, only a kid who’s spent countless hours playing with Legos could come up with something as creative as “Drift Slayer,” with its impressionist mosaic of string samples. But they’ve clearly grown up a bit. Mankind features interweaving guitars, groovier beats (see the pocket thump of “On Giving Up”) and lyrics that delve into darker themes. In closer “When it Comes,” Pearson welcomes her inevitable fate: “Death has come and now it’s gone / It’s about time.”

But as much as they’ve grown conceptually and technically, High Places is still the adorable band they’ve always been—and Mankind just goes to show that their delightful electronica will never grow old.

—Peter Holslin

This review ran in this week’s issue of CityBeat.

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Written by Peter Holslin

May 7, 2010 at 6:23 pm

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