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On Fire

The Higher

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Album Review

For a band that started off sounding as any with a certain fondness for Saves the Day records usually does, the Higher seem to have gotten a hold of some of that funky juice bands like Head Automatica and Young Love were sipping on to give them dance fever. On Fire, the band's debut for Epitaph, overhauls the straightforward emo-rock of their past to sufficiently soak their earnest and lovelorn ways in the flickering neon lights of crazy, carefree nights out on the town. The album's sticker claims the "new sound of emo, pop and R&B colliding in a dance party explosion," which is generally accurate. The Higher indeed enjoy a sleek fusion of adolescent desire, catchy hooks and danceable beats amid bunches of blips, synth strings and pristine production that will more often than not result in some level of hip-shaking action. But really, the band is actually pretty subdued as they overwhelmingly talk about hearts broken, mended and filled — this album is much more about winding down and reflecting on the night than on getting pumped up for its start. Yet On Fire remains as superficially likable as any of the Higher's partying musical peers; if the propulsive beats of "Rock My Body" don't get you tapping along (though they should), it'll still be hard to deny the gentle strums that swell into electric choruses in "Weapons Wired." So even if gentle sways are going on more than dancefloor explosions, it's not to say the album is totally lacking fun. But the youthful edge to vocalist Seth Trotter's voice makes it hard to see the band riling up anyone aside from teenage fans out past curfew. The requisite dance-rock topics about crashing after-hours parties, burning towns to the ground, and eyeing desired lovers from across the room are discussed, yet there is absolutely nothing rebellious, reckless or even slightly sexy here. For now, the Higher's polished and pulsing numbers will have to skip the nightlife and simply settle for prom after-parties. But something says that's probably just fine with them.


Formed: 2002 in Las Vegas, NV

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Las Vegas' the Higher formed in 2002, originally known as September Star, a high-school band consisting of vocalist Seth Trotter, drummer Pat Harter, guitarist James Mattison, and bassist Jason Centeno. Things got more serious the following year with the addition of second guitarist/vocalist Tom Oakes; the guys began playing locally and eventually recorded a demo comprised of songs they'd written when they were 16. It was enough to land a deal with Fiddler Records in mid-2003, and after the band...
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On Fire, The Higher
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