Saturday, 5 September 2009

Say Yes! - The Hi-Life Companion (Plastilina Records)

“Just say yes…” sing The Hi-Life Companion, sounding sinister and cult-ish and tempting, “Forget the rest…”

This is a spanking good pop record and the perfect accompaniment to a sunny Saturday morning train ride, an interesting collection of songs that feels like a lot of love and care has gone into its creation. The Hi-Life Companion are no one-trick ponies, cantering from the pastoral to the urban, from swooning to crunching, soothing to (a little bit) menacing. And always with plenty of tunes. ‘Say Yes!’ is a picnic basket packed with good things. Oh so many good things. Sweeping, spangling, crammed with sounds: twangy, jangly fizzy guitars, spingly glockenspiel (maybe even more than one at once!), violins and trumpets, ha ha harmonies – a cornucopia that spills out when you lift the lid. Yes, I do really like it, thanks.

Album opener ‘The Hi-Life Theme’ (always good to have a band theme tune, eh?) shows the band’s folkier side, all strummy and wistful – an English countryside summer, high skies and fields stretching forever (I may be influenced by the view from the train window here). A bit reminiscent of The Garden City Project.

‘Times Table’ is a top tune straight off the block, harmonies and handclaps and twinkly chimes, before ooh! The band break out the brass for ‘Night Comes Down’. ‘One Man Town’ eschews the summery fun. It’s an adrenalized whirr that buzzes along on big guitars. Motorik-licious!

Other sounds you’ll hear here: sleepy-eyed slide guitar; spooky Barretty psychedelia that swishes oceanically; fuzzy, urgent ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ “Ooh, oohs”; snarly piano spanking. A song called ‘The Girl In The Gorilla Suit’.

The album ends with The Hi-Life Companion’s piece de resistance, ‘In Your Heart, A Cathedral’, filmic and expansive (eight minutes!), slowly spiralling sky-high around a central riff, carried by heart-tugging brass. A gorgeous contemplative close.

1 comment:

String Bean Jen said...

Great review and you've reminded me I have yet to listen to the album. MUST DO.