Higher Ground – Gravity

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Review by Brian McGowan

Swedish band Higher Ground have been around a while now, ploughing their own alt.melodic pop&rock furrow with an uncompromised determination… and no little skill. Gravity is the band’s fifth studio album in 19 years. It’s filled with a deeply satisfying mix of sweetly sophisticated rock music (sometimes with a Progrock bent), and edgy ensemble pieces, though it’s hard to argue against vocalist Peter Lindberg’s pivotal role in the delivery of all nine of these songs.

Broad, major chord brush strokes are generally avoided. This band clearly like exploring the melodic rock road less travelled, occasionally to the point of idiosyncrasy. All that said, ‘Missing You’ and ‘Glory’ are the album’s most accessible tracks. Both were entrants in Swedish Radio’s Svensktoppen Nasta competition, respectively in 2012 and 2013, reaching the semis on both occasions. Both have the same, measured urbanity of tone as all other tracks on the album, but these two, while they might lack the slap-in-the-face chutzpah of today’s chart troubling pop music, have much more of a radio friendly appeal. Further on, ‘Remember Me’ also gets close, revealing the band’s ability to combine storytelling with a scene-stealing chorus and a soulful delivery.

Elsewhere, the balladic ‘Again’ – exquisitely crafted and elegantly rendered, sketched and coloured in around a sparkling synth – and the guitar driven ‘Tightrope’ will recall those almost incomparable practitioners of grown up Westcoast rock, Lava. But they are simply more example of this band’s ear for fine textural detail. Each and every song seems an accumulation of ideas, refined and distilled, often melancholic, but never sterile, dressing emotions and words in memorable melodies and consummate musicianship. Despite that, no doubt fame and fortune will continue to elude them.

Higher Ground 20148.5 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Fate
  2. Missing You
  3. Glory
  4. Supernatural
  5. Again
  6. Remember Me
  7. Waste Of Time
  8. Tightrope
  9. Favorite Friend