Brooklyn duo High Places emerged last year looking like the leads in a new Michel Gondry flick: charmingly child-like, slightly awkward and bearing a trunkful of intricate gadgetry. Mary Pearson and Rob Barber met in 2006 and almost immediately began making music, an odd combination of Barber’s swampy, rhythmic collages and Pearson’s chirpy, ruminative lyrics. Their first release, 03/07 - 09/07, collected various 7” singles and one-off tracks from the titular time period; it’s remarkable how High Places seemed to have absorbed so many trends central to today’s musical avant-garde—the layers of pedal effects that mark the efforts of No Age, primitive polyrhythms found on albums by Yeasayer and Animal Collective, the ubiquitous fascination with 30-year-old dance music—without sounding faddish at all. Their full-length debut, High Places, is undeniably of its era, but it’s also stirringly unique. Opener “The Storm” begins with a stark bassline straight out of the Knife’s “Heartbeats” before erupting into a wash of tambourine shakes, banjo flourishes and vocals about climbing trees. “Gold Coin” spins on the competing forces of static-y guitar figures, a driving drumbeat and Pearson’s catchy spoken-word chants. Each track is a similar hodgepodge of found sounds and melodic junk, teetering precariously on the edge of becoming a discombobulated mess, but no moment on the album sounds out of control or wasted.
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